The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Thursday that rates of cancer for children and teens in the country fell 24% between 2001 and 2021. The report looked at the rates for Black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic white kids up to 19 years old, who made up 92% of all youth cancer deaths in 2021.
According to the report, the overall cancer death rate, for those under 20 years old in 2021 was 2.10 deaths per 100K — a significant drop from 2.75 per 100k in 2001 but slightly up from the rate of 2.09 per 100K in both 2019 and 2020. The total number of deaths dropped from 2,226 in 2001 to 1,722 in 2021.
The rate at which children are beating cancer today is a tremendous success that should be celebrated. However, these numbers are usually in reference to five-year survival rates, which, for a child in particular, is devastatingly short. The reason pediatric cancer is so unique it that is often originates in utero, meaning it can progress before a baby is even born. With only 4% of federal cancer research funding going toward pediatric cancer, the US is far from reaching the 10-, 20-, or 40-year survival rates these children deserve.
The problem isn't that cancer research isn't advancing fast enough, but rather that it's being applied inequitably. This report shows that White children over the past ten years were far more likely to survive cancer than their Black and Hispanic counterparts, which is a sign that certain populations are receiving more resources than others. Cancer won't be defeated until every patient, regardless of color, receives an equal amount of time, energy, and support.
There's a 50% chance that there will be a breakthrough in the treatment of hard-to-treat cancers by June 2031, according to the Metaculus prediction community.