that leukemias and cancers of the brain and central nervous system are the most frequent causes of cancer-related deaths in those under age 20 (Figure 2.3) (Ries et al., 1999, 2001). For adults, lung cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer dominate as cancer-related causes of death (Reis et al., 2001).
Survival rates for most childhood cancers have improved dramatically over the past three decades. Age-adjusted mortality dropped by nearly 44 percent from 1975 to 1998 (Ries, 2001). For leukemias in childhood, the decrease was more than 55 percent, but for brain and other nervous system tumors, it was considerably smaller, 24 percent.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the death rate between 1994 and 1998 from all cancers was 2.7 per 100,000 for children aged 0 to 4 and 5 to 9 years (Ries, 2001). Leukemias and brain and other nervous system cancers were the most common types of cancer in these two age groups (as well as in the 10- to 14-year group). They also accounted for more than half the cancer mortality for these age groups. Five-year relative survival rates for children in all age groups for these cancers were fairly similar—between 76 and 79 percent—for the period 1992 to 1997.