Childhood Cancer Research Highlights

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is deeply committed to finding new answers that will help every child and family affected by cancer. 

Spotlight on ACS Childhood Cancer Research Publications

Here are some examples of the research areas and scientists the American Cancer Society (ACS) helps fund. These investigators are working to find answers that will save more lives from childhood cancer and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.  

New Findings About the Genetic Risks of Childhood Cancer

A CPS-II Study

“This is an important study because it shows that pediatric cancer patients may have genetic variants in other cancer-related genes that they’re not aware of.

“I’m a childhood cancer survivor myself, and my family was screened for genetic variants related to my cancer. However, the genes identified in this study were not considered at the time my family and I were screened. Following up on these findings with more research is key for finding the best treatment for childhood cancer patients and better genetic counseling for them and their families.”—Ryan Diver, MSPH

See the highlight about Ryan Diver's published study.


Early Research Offers Hope for Better Medulloblastoma Drugs

“When I work with doctors who treat brain cancers in children, I hear stories from them and from patients’ families firsthand. The toxicity of the treatments these children receive is devastating. We need to have better treatments for these kids. We need treatments to be more targeted, so they will be less toxic and more effective. That’s what my lab is working on.”Jezabel Rodriguez-Blanco, PhD

See the highlight about Dr. Rodriguez-Blanco's published study.


Study Shows Childhood Cancer Survivors Can Expect to Have a Longer Life Expectancy Due to Improvements in Treatment Over the Last 30 Years

Can survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer expect to live longer due to improvements in treatment? We used simulation modeling to find out—by estimating life expectancy of survivors diagnosed in the last 30 years.

“Simulation modeling is a powerful tool for leveraging data from cohort studies and other sources to understand the lifelong risks childhood and adolescent cancer survivors face as adults and for identifying opportunities to improve care and long-term health for children diagnosed with cancer.—Jennifer Yeh, PhD

See the highlight about Dr. Yeh's published study.


Potential New Hope for Infants with a Hard-to-Treat Leukemia

“Grants from the American Cancer Society (ACS) help researchers like me identify new therapies for cancer patients. One new drug my lab is developing is a targeted therapy for children with mixed lineage leukemia (MLL), which has a very poor prognosis.

“By blocking the interaction of the MLL protein with another protein called menin, we developed very potent small molecule inhibitors that effectively block leukemia cell growth and induce complete remission in mice with leukemia from patient samples.

“Our work led to identification of a very potent and selective drug candidate that is currently in phase I clinical trial in these young leukemia patients.”
—Jolanta Grembecka, PhD

See the highlight about Dr. Grembecka's published study.


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Grants in Childhood Cancer

44 Grants with $6 Million of Funding as of August 1, 2021

We Fund Cancer Researchers Across the US

The American Cancer Society funds scientists who conduct research about cancer at medical schools, universities, research institutes, and hospitals throughout the United States. We use a rigorous and independent peer review process to select the most innovative research projects proposals to fund. 

Childhood Cancer Statistics In Brief

Death Rate from Childhood Cancer Has Decreased for Decades

Each year, the American Cancer Society (ACS) Surveillance & Health Equity Science program publishes the latest data on cancer trends in the United States, including childhood cancers, as part of its Cancer Statistics report in the ACS journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. This report is accompanied by an educational publication, Cancer Facts & Figures

These publications provide detailed analyses and estimates of cancer incidence, survival, and mortality trends in the US. They also have the latest information on cancer risk factors, early detection, treatment, and current research.

Cancer in Children Ages Birth to 14, US 2022 Statistics

  • It is estimated that 10,470 children will be diagnosed with cancer, and 1,050 will die from the disease.
  • Cancer is the second most common cause of death among children ages 1 to 14. Accidents are the most common cause.
  • The cancer incidence rate among children has been increasing since the mid-1970s. The trends vary by cancer type.
  • In contrast, cancer death rates in children have declined by 71% since 1970. These reductions are largely due to improvements in treatment and more children taking part in clinical trials.
  • Leukemia remains the most common childhood cancer, accounting for 28% of all cancers in children. 
  • Brain tumors and other tumors in the nervous system are the second-most common type, accounting for 26% of all childhood cancers.

Cancer in Adolescents Ages 15 to 19, US 2022 Statistics

  • An estimated 5,480* adolescents will be diagnosed with cancer, and 550 will die from the disease.
  • Similar to children, cancer incidence rates among adolescents have increased slightly for decades, while the cancer death rate declined by 61% from 1970 to 2019
  • Brain tumors and other tumors in the nervous system are the most common type of cancer in adolescents. They account for about 21% of cancers in this age group, followed by 19% from lymphoma.
  • Progress in survival for some types of cancer among adolescents has lagged somewhat behind children for complex reasons that include lower enrollment in clinical trials, differences in tumor biology and treatment protocols, as well as treatment tolerance and compliance.

See Cancer Facts & Figures 2014 Special Section: Cancer in Children & Adolescents  and Cancer Facts & Figures 2020 Special Section: Cancer in Adolescents & Young Adults for more statistics. 

Find more statistics about childhood and adolescent cancer on the Cancer Statistics Center:

  • Estimated new cases and deaths
  • Historical trends in incidence rates
  • Historical trends in death rates
  • 5-year survival rates

Use the analysis tool in the drop-down menu to see any of these statistics in comparison to other types of cancer.

Diagnosis of Brain Tumors Among Children and Adolescents Has Slightly Increased

"Although brain tumor survival is relatively high in children compared to adults, there are several tumor types for which survival remains dismally low. In addition, while enrollment in clinical trials is generally high in children diagnosed with cancer, racial/ethnic disparities in childhood brain tumor survival points towards a critical need for equitable enrollment in clinical trials for non-White children."—Kim Miller, MPH

Learn about brain tumor statistics for children and adolescents.


ACS Childhood Cancer Research News