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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 11,630 children (younger than 15) 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 by 68%. However, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in this age group after accidents. It is estimated that 1,310 deaths from cancer will occur this year.
As explained in the Overview, there are several types of childhood cancer, and survival rates are different for each. In general, the overall five-year survival rate (the percentage of people who survive at least five years after the cancer is detected, excluding those who die from other diseases) of children with cancer under the age of 15 is 83%. The overall five-year survival rate of teenagers (ages 15 to 19) with cancer is also around 80%.
Cancer survival statistics should be interpreted with caution. These estimates are based on data from thousands of children with cancer, but the actual risk for a particular individual may differ. It is not possible to tell a person how long he or she will live with a particular childhood cancer. Because the survival statistics are often measured in five-year intervals, they may not represent advances made in the treatment or diagnosis of this cancer. Learn more about understanding statistics.
Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's publication, Cancer Facts and Figures 2013, and Bleyer A, O’Leary M, Barr R, Ries LAG (eds): Cancer Epidemiology in Older Adolescents and Young Adults 15 to 29 Years of Age, Including SEER Incidence and Survival: 1975-2000. National Cancer Institute, NIH Pub. No. 06-5767. Bethesda, MD 2006.