Child and teen cancer deaths are on the decline

An empty hospital bed.
An empty hospital bed. Photo credit Getty Images

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that the rate of child and teen deaths from cancer fell 24% from 2001 to 2021.

The report was released last Thursday and looked at the death rates for all children, finding that girls saw a 30% decline in death rates compared to 19% for boys.

Black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic White youths who were 19 years old or younger were also examined in the report, as they were the three demographics responsible for 92% of all youth cancer deaths in 2021.

For children of all ages in those groups, death rates fell between 2001 and 2011. However, after 2011, only children 9 and younger saw declines that were deemed “significant.”

Every race saw cancer death rates fall between 15% and 17% within the first decade, but after 2011, only death rates among White children continued on the decline.

For Hispanic youths, the death rate dropped slightly, but for Black youths, it increased between 2011 and 2021.

By 2021, it was noted that the rate for white youths was 19% to 20% lower than for their Black and Hispanic peers, according to the CDC.

In compiling its report, the CDC utilized data from the National Vital Statistics System, which tracks death certificate information from across the country.

Sally Curtin is a CDC statistician and led the report. She shared that the authors looked specifically at the death certificates of patients under 20 years of age who died from the most common forms of cancer.

While some demographics are seeing rates remain stagnant or even rise, Curtin says the report shows good trends.

“The overall message is good news,” Curtin said, adding that death rates “declined across the board: all the five-year age groups, male, female, and all the race groups.”

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