Increase in
Pediatric Brain Tumors

The following information comes from the medical literature and demonstrates that the rate of pediatric brain tumors is on the rise.

1988: In this article from the Yale University School of Medicine, doctors examined the rise of childhood cancers in Connecticut from 1935-1979. They wrote:

"A threefold increase in the incidence of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in males 0-4 years of age was observed…The incidence of central nervous system cancers also increased in several age groups for both sexes with the largest increase seen in males 0-4 years old."
— van Hoff J, Schymura MJ, Curnen MG, Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, "Trends in the incidence of childhood and adolescent cancer in Connecticut, 1935-1979", Med Pediatr Oncol 1988;16(2):78-87

In 1993, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas reviewed national data on childhood cancer rates from 1973 to 1988 and found it to be increasing. The author wrote:

"The 1991 edition of Cancer Statistics Review was scrutinized for information on the status of pediatric cancers in the United States. The evidence indicates that in the United States, cancer among children younger than 15 years of age is increasing in incidence."
—Bleyer WA, "What can be learned about childhood cancer from 'Cancer statistics review 1973-1988' ", Cancer 1993 May 15;71(10 Suppl):3229-36

One year later, researchers at the University of Washington analyzed the rates of childhood cancers from 1974 to 1989. They found that all the brain cancers were on the rise. They also added that no one knows why these cancers are going up. They wrote:

"Increasing annual incidence rates were found for all childhood cancers combined, acute lymphoid leukemia, and brain tumors…it remains largely undetermined why childhood cancer incidence rates are increasing in the United States…"
—Gurney JG, Davis S, Severson RK, Robison LL, "The influence of subsequent neoplasms on incidence trends in childhood cancer" Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 1994 Jun;3(4):349-51

1996: In 1996, researchers from the Department of Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia looked at the incidence of cancer in the "Greater Delaware Valley" from 1970 to 1989. Cancers of the central nervous system (e.g. brain tumors such as medulloblastoma) went up 2.7% a year. They wrote:

"As little is known about the aetiology (cause) of cancer in children…We report here on trends in the incidence of 15 categories of cancer in children under 15 years of age from 1970 to 1989, using data from the Greater Delaware Valley Pediatric Tumor Registry…the incidence of central nervous system (CNS) tumors rose 2.7% a year. All three subgroups in this category, glioma, PNET/medulloblastoma, and other CNS tumors, showed increases…The rise in CNS tumor incidence confirms previous reports from the U.S. and Great Britain."
—Bunin GR, Feuer EJ, Witman PA, Meadows AT, "Increasing incidence of childhood cancer: report of 20 years experience from the greater Delaware Valley Pediatric Tumor Registry" Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol 1996 Jul;10(3):319-38

That same year, researchers at Wayne State University of Medicine in Detroit examined data on childhood cancer from the National Cancer Institute for the years 1974-1991. They found it had increased especially in "young children." They wrote:

"Population-based data from nine registries (from)…the National Cancer Institute were analyzed…Rates increased an average of 2% or more per year for astroglial tumors, rhabdomyosarcomas, germ cell tumors and osteosarcomas…Cancer trends in general were strongest in young children. In particular, increases in astroglial tumors and rhabdomyosarcomas were most apparent among children under three years of age and for retinoblastoma and neuroblastoma among children in their first year of life."
—Gurney JG, Davis S, Severson RK, Fang JY, Ross JA, Robison LL, "Trends in cancer incidence among children in the U.S." Cancer 1996 Aug 1;78(3):532-41

In 1998, researchers in Minnesota reviewed the rates of pediatric cancer in eight Minnesota counties. Over 1,100 cancers were diagnosed in 6 years (1988-1994). They noted that cancer rates were increasing, "particularly brain tumors."

"Childhood cancer incidence patterns for Minnesota, obtained from the Minnesota Cancer Surveillance System, were compared with national rates as well as with historic data from eight Minnesota counties. In total, 1,140 neoplasms were diagnosed in children (ages 0 to 14) between 1988 and 1994. Leukemias were the most common diagnosis for boys (30.3%) and girls (29.6%), followed by central nervous system tumors...In particular, the incidence rate for astrocytoma ( a kind of brain tumor)in boys was significantly elevated. Childhood cancer incidence, particularly brain tumors, has increased in the eight-county region from 1969 to 1994. This analysis demonstrated the Minnesota's childhood cancer incidence patterns are similar to national patterns."
—Swensen AR, Bushhouse SA "Childhood cancer incidence and trends in Minnesota, 1988-1994" Minn Med 1998 Dec;81(12):27-32

In 1999, the National Cancer Institute looked at the trends in childhood cancer between 1975 and 1995. They found a "statistically significant" rise in the occurrence for brain and other central nervous system cancers. They wrote:

"For brain and other central nervous system cancers, incidence rose modestly, although statistically significantly…"
—Linet MS, Ries LA, Smith MA, Tarone RE, Devesa SS, "Cancer surveillance series: recent trends in childhood cancer incidence and mortality in the United States" J Natl Cancer Inst 1999 Jun 16;91(12):1051-8

That same year, the International Journal of Health Services published a report in which they stated that the "rising childhood cancer rate represents a far more serious problem in the United States than previous reports have suggested."

"From the early 1980s to the early 1990s, the incidence of cancer in American children under 10 years of age rose 37 percent, or 3 percent annually. There is an inverse correlation between increases in cancer rates and age at diagnosis; the largest rise (54 percent) occurred in children diagnosed before their first birthday. Rates rose for all 11 states and cities included in the analysis. A jump in cancer rates for children born in 1982-83 was followed by a drop; but another abrupt rise for the 1986-87 birth cohort has been sustained thereafter. Results indicate that the rising childhood cancer rate represents a far more serious problem in the United States than previous reports have suggested…"
—Mangano JJ, "A rise in the incidence of childhood cancer in the United States" Int J Health Serv 1999;29(2):393-408


© Raphaele and Michael Horwin, 1999 - 2002