The CDC today reported that the nation's childhood cancer death rate -- which includes kids and adolescents -- decreased by 1.7% per year from 1990 to 2004, thanks to advances in treatment.
During those years, a total of 34,500 children and teens in the U.S. died of cancer.
In 1990, there were 2,457 childhood cancer deaths, compared with 2,223 in 2004, notes the CDC.
Childhood cancer isn't rarer than it used to be. Cases of childhood cancer rose by less than 1% per year from 1990 to 2004.
Leading Causes of Childhood Cancer Death
For 2004 -- the most recent year for which CDC childhood cancer statistics are available -- leukemias were the leading cause of childhood cancer death. Cancers of the brain and nervous system ranked second.
Childhood deaths from leukemias declined by 3% per year, and childhood deaths from cancers of the brain and nervous system fell by 1% annually from 1990 to 2004.
But the decline happened faster for some groups than for others, and the CDC calls for those disparities to be addressed.
Disparities in Childhood Cancer Mortality
Childhood cancer mortality declined among boys and girls of all ages, races, and ethnic groups (except for American Indians/Alaska Natives, whose childhood cancer mortality rate held steady).
Hispanics had a slower decline in their childhood cancer death rate than non-Hispanics. Access to health care may have influenced that trend, notes the CDC.
The childhood mortality rate also declined more slowly in Western states than in other regions. The reason for that pattern isn't clear.
The findings, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, come from a national database of information form death certificates.
The CDC is working with other organizations to teach childhood cancer survivors, their families, and their doctors about staying healthy after cancer treatment.