New Data Shows a Child Is Diagnosed With Cancer Every 2 Minutes

by Erinn Jessop, St. Baldrick's Foundation
July 19, 2016

Scientists have new data on how many kids are being diagnosed with cancer around the world, and the numbers are telling a startling story — that more kids are being diagnosed with cancer than we thought. Read on for more about the new statistics, what they mean, and how you can help.

Childhood cancer statistics

Childhood cancer is a big problem. But according to new estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), it’s an even bigger problem than we thought.

According to new research done by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), about 215,000 children worldwide — from infants to 14-year-olds — are newly diagnosed with childhood cancer each year.

That’s a big jump from their last study, which showed about 165,000 new cases of childhood cancer each year.

On top of that, the new study found that 85,000 adolescents — from 15-year-olds to 19-year-olds — are being diagnosed each year, bringing the overall incidence of childhood cancer to 300,000 kids per year.

But what do these new numbers really mean?

They mean that every two minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer.

They mean that childhood cancer research — and more funding for it — is more crucial than ever before.

“These new numbers definitely mean that the burden of cancer in childhood is larger than what we thought before, which means that greater resources are needed to tackle the burden,” said Dr. Eva Steliarova-Foucher, a scientist in IARC’s Section of Cancer Surveillance.

10 Childhood Cancer Facts
But why did the statistics change so drastically?

That’s difficult to say, explained Dr. Steliarova-Foucher, because several factors may be involved.

For one, the global population of children is growing, so the number of children with cancer is also growing. It’s also likely that better diagnostic tools, better data tracking, and increased awareness of childhood cancer played a role.

The data gathered for these statistics is more precise than in previous years, Dr. Steliarova-Foucher said. The new statistics are based on high-quality data from more than 100 cancer registries all over the world, and some of those sources were not available to derive the previous estimates.

Learn how St. Baldrick’s funding helped create a pediatric cancer registry in Central America >

The data, gathered from 68 different countries, is a wake-up call that more needs to be done to ensure that kids with cancer everywhere get the care they need.

“These new numbers, which are larger, should also mean that there should be more attention devoted to the issue of childhood cancer, especially in those settings where children with cancer are not diagnosed at all or do not receive adequate care for various reasons,” Dr. Steliarova-Foucher said.

This data can not only help organizations send resources where they are needed so more children’s lives are saved, said Dr. Steliarova-Foucher, it can also help scientists learn what causes the disease.

That knowledge is crucial because finding the causes of childhood cancer is the first step to preventing it.

And more research is how we bring this startling new statistic — 300,000 kids diagnosed with cancer each year — to zero.

Join us and make these statistics history. Fund childhood cancer research today.


Read more on the St. Baldrick’s blog: