Cancer death rates among children and teens dropped in the past two decades, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but that decline has stalled over the past 10 years among Black and Hispanic children.
The cancer death rate for all kids and teens ages 0 to 19 fell 24 percent between 2001 and 2021. But from 2011 through 2021, only kids 9 years old and younger saw “significant” declines.
The drop is mostly due to advances in treating childhood leukemia. Death rates among youth due to leukemia, the most common type of deadly cancer among kids, declined 47 percent between 2001 and 2021, the CDC found.
Despite an 11 percent decrease in the past decade, brain cancer was the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among children in 2021.
The CDC data showed that despite the overall progress in reducing cancer deaths, there are significant racial and ethnic disparities.
In the first decade, all races saw a similar decline in the cancer death rate. But between 2011 and 2021, the death rate dropped only slightly for Hispanic youths and increased for Black youths.
In 2021, the death rate for white youth was 19-20 percent lower than for Black and Hispanic youth, CDC found.
The 2021 rate per 10,000 was 2.38 for Black youth, 2.36 for Hispanic youth and 1.99 for white youth.
The report, which used data from the National Vital Statistics System, did not examine potential reasons for the disparities.
However, cancer doctors and public health experts have been expressing concerns about a lack of equal access to the newest, cutting-edge cancer treatments or treatment centers.
People don’t always live close to major medical centers, and while new treatments can be game-changing, they are also expensive, putting them out of reach for many under- or uninsured and low-income patients.