Childhood Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about how many children and teenagers are diagnosed with cancer each year. You will also learn some general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

In general, cancer in children and teenagers is uncommon, accounting for less than 1% of all cancer cases in the United States. This year, an estimated 10,380 children younger than 15 and about 5,000 adolescents aged 15 to 19 will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States.

Most children and teenagers diagnosed with cancer can be treated successfully. Since 1969, the number of deaths from childhood cancer has decreased steadily by 66%. However, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in children 0 to 14 years of age after accidents.

It is estimated that 1,250 deaths from cancer will occur this year in children in this age group and 600 deaths from cancer in teens aged 15 to 19.

As explained in the Overview, there are several types of childhood cancer, and survival rates are different for each. The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of children live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for childhood cancer is about 83%, compared to 58% in the mid-1970s.

It is important to remember that statistics on how many children survive this type of cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from data based on thousands of children with this cancer in the United States each year. So, your child’s risk may be different. Doctors cannot say for sure how long any child will live with cancer. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. This means that the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's publication, Cancer Facts and Figures 2016, and the ACS website.

The next section in this guide is Risk Factors and Prevention. It explains what factors may increase the chance of developing this disease. Or, use the menu on the side of your screen to choose another section to continue reading this guide.