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March 23, 1984

Decline in US Childhood Cancer Mortality: 1950 Through 1980

Author Affiliations

From the Clinical Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.

JAMA. 1984;251(12):1567-1570. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340360033025

Cancer mortality among children in the United States, 1950 through 1979, as evaluated by death certificate diagnoses, revealed dramatic declines primarily in the second half of the 30-year interval. The numbers of deaths of persons younger than 15 years, 1965 through 1979, as compared with the number expected at 1950 rates, fell 50% for leukemia, 32% for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, 80% for Hodgkin's disease, 50% for bone sarcoma, 68% for kidney cancer, and 31% for all other cancer. There were 17,411 fewer deaths from childhood cancer from 1965 through 1979 than expected at the 1950 rate. Leukemia mortality declined by 8,073 deaths and kidney tumor mortality by 2,393. In data subsequently received for 1980, the decline in rates persisted for leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, but the rates for the other four cancer categories seem to have reached a plateau. The reduction in mortality is attributed to improved therapy.

(JAMA 1984;251:1567-1570)