Brain Cancer and Leukemia death rates reversed
Brain Cancer has officially replaced leukemia as the leading cause of cancer deaths among children and adolescents. In 1999, a quarter of cancer deaths among patients aged 1 to 19 were caused by brain cancer while a third were attributable to leukemia. According to a report published by the National Center for Health Statistics, these percentages reversed by 2014. The lead author of the report, Sally Curtin states that the change reflected a reduction in deaths from leukemia, rather than an increase in deaths from brain cancer. In the report, it showed that cancer death rates among children and adolescents dropped 20 percent between 1999 and 2014, continuing a long-term trend.
Why This Is Happening
The Senior Vice President for intramural research at the American Cancer Society, Elizabeth Ward, says that the decrease in deaths from leukemia, once universally lethal, is a result of the enormous strides oncologists have made in recent decades in developing effective chemotherapy regimens and finding the best ways to use radiation and bone-marrow transplants. She states "brain cancers are generally very hard to treat," partly because surgeons have to be careful not to damage healthy tissue during operations and partly because of the blood-brain barrier, which prevents some drugs from getting into the brain. Ann Kingston, director of research and science policy at the National Brain Tumor Society, says that the brain-cancer death rates were "not acceptable". She adds that she hopes that the increased use of molecular profiling of tumors, which can identify which drugs tumors are likely to respond to, and the development of other targeted therapies would lead to progress.