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New Report: Brain Tumor Incidence Rates in Children and Adolescents on the Rise

08/30/21

PBTF Calls for Increased Focus on Pediatric-first Brain Tumor Research

A new study published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians underscores the urgent need to stop a growing crisis for American children. This collaborative study with Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States researchers, led by American Cancer Society’s Kimberly D. Miller, MPH with funding from the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (PBTF), shows that incidence rates for malignant brain and central nervous system tumors in children and adolescents have increased 0.5% to 0.7% per year since 2008. Adult brain tumor incidence rates, on the other hand, have decreased.

“While new cases of brain tumors in adults are shrinking each year, the terrible truth for our country's children is that incidence rates of the deadliest form of childhood cancer continue to grow. And yet research to solve this problem is sorely underfunded,” says Courtney Davies, PBTF President and CEO. “As the CBTRUS report illustrates, pediatric brain tumors are not the same as adult brain tumors and using treatments designed for adults on children’s smaller bodies and developing brains is not ok. This is why PBTF is laser-focused on funding and advocating for pediatric-first brain tumor research. These children deserve more attention and funding, and we call on government leaders, the pharmaceutical industry, and the public to join PBTF and our partners in making early detection, treatment, and quality of life for pediatric brain tumor patients a priority.”

Other findings from the study include:

  • Racial disparities persist among children. By race and ethnicity, five-year survival was lowest in pediatric patients who were non-Hispanic Black (70%) and highest in those who were non-Hispanic White (79%), in contrast to patterns in adults. The study reports that this disparity likely reflects less access to appropriate treatment and clinical trial enrollment among non-White patients. 
  • Five-year survival for pediatric patients also varied substantially by brain tumor subtype. Increased funding for the collection and reporting of timely consistent data is needed so that researchers and clinicians can better understand and adjust treatment strategies for the differences in brain tumor occurrence, especially for rarer subtypes and among understudied populations. 
  • Children and adolescents who do survive their cancer diagnosis are at particular risk of long-term and late effects. Compared with their cancer-free siblings, survivors were at elevated risk for endocrine disorders, cardiovascular problems, obesity and depression, as well as less educational attainment, higher levels of unemployment, and lower income levels.  

“When we talk about finding a cure for pediatric brain tumors, we’re not talking about just one disease. We’re talking about more than 100 subtypes, with varying treatment approaches and outcomes. Although the medical community’s understanding of pediatric brain tumors has expanded in recent years thanks to research investments from PBTF and other leaders in the field, the reality is that far too many children still face a 0% survival rate and those who do survive face the threat of recurrence and the immense challenges of survivorship. We believe progress is possible through collaboration, which is why PBTF is committed to supporting the valuable work of partners like CBTRUS and welcoming others to join us in championing for pediatric-first research,” adds Davies.

Throughout Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, PBTF will team up with patient families, brands, and individuals, including leaders from the powersports, professional baseball, gaming, and entertainment communities, to #GoHead2Head with pediatric brain cancer. And thanks to a special challenge match from The Sontag Foundation, supporters will have an opportunity to unlock an additional $50,000 for PBTF’s mission.

Join us for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by donating or starting a fundraiser today at curethekids.org/gohead2head, and read the full Brain and other central nervous system tumor statistics, 2021 report here.  

About the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation
Every day, 13 children and teens are diagnosed with a brain tumor, the deadliest and most common form of cancer in kids under 15. Every day after, they are in a fight for their life. It's a fight the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is here to help families win. A leader in the brain tumor and childhood cancer communities, PBTF's mission of Care. Cure. Thrive. reflects its commitment to curing all pediatric brain tumors and transforming how children and their families are cared for. Since 1991, PBTF has provided strategic leadership and funding to accelerate the number of targeted therapies for children battling brain tumors today, while equipping families with the patient-family education, financial relief, and emotional support they need to navigate their child's journey. A world without childhood brain tumors is possible when we work together to put kids first. Learn more at www.curethekids.org.

If you or a family you know need support following a child’s brain tumor diagnosis, our team is here for you at 800-253-6530, x306 and familysupport@curethekids.org.