(From the March 2015 Issue of PediatricsOnline)
A recent multi-institutional study has revealed that cancers of the central nervous system are now the most common solid tumor, the most common cancer and the most common cause of cancer-related death to U.S. children aged 0-14. The project, funded by a grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, provides a comprehensive epidemiological summary on CNS cancers using data from the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States from 2007-2011.
“The study is important, first and foremost, because it documents with the most current data what many of us have been suspecting for a long time — that childhood central nervous system cancer now represents the major form of cancer-related death in the United States in all children between birth and 14 years of age,” says Jonathan L. Finlay, MD, program director of Neuro-Oncology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a consultant on the recent endeavor. “Knowledge of the epidemiology of childhood brain cancer provides justification for prioritization of local, regional and national funding to support research endeavors to improve diagnosis, treatment and quality-of-life outcomes for these diseases.”
The principal incidence-related findings of the study include the following:
The study’s reported statistics are believed to be highly reflective of CNS cancers’ true occurrence.
“These data are generated from the largest population-based registry in the country for primary brain tumors, encompassing 99.8 percent of the U.S. population,” Dr. Finlay says. “However, the survival analyses are drawn from a subset of approximately 26 percent of the U.S. population and therefore may be somewhat less reliable than the demographic data evaluating tumor incidence.”
The principal survival-related findings of the study include the following:
Dr. Finlay and his collaborators already have plans to incorporate the study’s findings into their upcoming research.
“Factors causing relatively higher than average annual incidence and mortality of childhood brain cancer in the Mid-Atlantic region remain unexplained and merit study,” says Dr. Finlay, who also is a tenured professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “We propose to study delayed diagnosis of childhood brain cancer within Ohio and its ultimate impact upon survival and quality of life. We also intend to introduce a community-based program for physicians and parents throughout Ohio to reduce these delays in diagnosis of brain cancer in childhood.”
Ostrom QT, de Blank PM, Kruchko C, Petersen CM, Liao P, Finlay JL, Stearns DS, Wolff JE, Wolinsky Y, Letterio JJ, Barnholtz-Sloan JS. Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation infant and childhood primary brain and central nervous system tumors diagnosed in the United States in 2007-2011. Neuro-Oncology. 2015 Jan, 16 Suppl 10:x1-x36.