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March 28, 1986

Survival of Children With Cancer

Author Affiliations

Clinical Epidemiology Branch National Cancer Institute Bethesda, Md

JAMA. 1986;255(12):1572. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370120046018

To the Editor.—  Advances in therapy have increased the survival of children with cancer.1 Among approximately 144,000 US white children diagnosed with cancer at ages 0 to 14 years from 1955 to 1979, we estimate that 45,300 (31%) were alive in 1984 (Table). More patients were successfully treated in the 1970s (25,600) than in the preceding 15 years (19,700). This difference is due primarily to recent improvements in therapy for childhood leukemia. Nevertheless, only 18% of children with leukemia diagnosed before 1980 were alive in 1984, in contrast to 77% of patients with retinoblastoma. Our estimates are based on published figures and standard life-table procedures, with errors inherent in projecting the results of individual studies to all US white children.2-5Approximately one child in 600 in the United States develops cancer in the first 15 years of life. Those who have been cured often have permanent damage to