Amanda Riley Foundation

Supporting Children Battling Cancer
      Making a SMILE at a time! 

Childhood Cancer Facts


Did you know?

Cancer is still the leading cause of death from disease among U.S. Children over one year of age.

Cancer kills more children than cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, AIDS, asthma, and juvenile diabetes COMBINED!

In one month there are 2 times as many deaths from childhood cancer as pediatric AIDS for the entire year.

One in every 330 Americans develop cancer before the age of 20. 

In the past 30 years only ONE new cancer drug has been approved for pediatric use.

While progress against childhood cancer has been made, cure rates for  some pediatric cancers remain below 50%.

Sadly, over 3,000 children with cancer die each year. Thats about every 2 hours, 50 minutes a child dies from cancer.

In the U.S, among children, from birth to age 19, more than 18,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed each year.

Currently there is between 30,000 - 40,000 children being treated for cancer in the U.S.

Every school day 46 children are diagnosed with cancer.

On the average, one in every four elementary schools has a child with cancer. The average high school has two students who are current or former cancer patients.

80% of children have metastasized cancer at the time of their diagnosis. At diagnosis, only 20% of adults with cancer show evidence that the disease has spread or metastasized.

Detecting childhood cancers at an early stage, when the disease would react more favorably to treatment, is extremely difficult.

Childhood cancer is not a single disease, but rather many different types that fall into 12 major categories. Common adult cancers are extremely rare in children, yet many cancers are almost exclusively found in children.

The cause of most childhood cancers are unknown and at present, cannot be prevented. (Most adult cancers result from lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, occupation, and other exposure to cancer-causing agents).

About one in 500 young adults is a childhood cancer survivor. Nearly 2/3 of the survivors later experience significant and chronic medical problems or develop secondary cancers as adults that result from the treatment of their original cancer.

Cancers in very young children are highly aggressive and behave unlike malignant diseases at other times in life.

Cancer symptoms in children – fever, swollen glands, anemia, bruises and infection – are often suspected to be, and at the early stages are treated as, other childhood illnesses.  

Treatment can continue for several years, depending on the type of cancer and the type of therapy given.

Childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly and spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region. In the United States, the incidence of cancer among adolescents and young adults is increasing at a greater rate than any other age group, except those over 65 years.

This year, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells, will be diagnosed in about 3,000 U.S. children, making it the most common pediatric cancer.4     

Childhood cancer survival rates in the U.S. have increased from less than 20% in the 1960's to almost 80% today. 

The increase in childhood cancer survival rates can be partly attributed to the progress made against the most common childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The survival rates for Leukemia were 50 percent 50 years ago to 94% today.

Several childhood cancers continue to have a very poor prognosis, including: brain stem tumors, metastatic sarcomas, relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and relapsed non-Hodgkin's lumphona.

Despite these facts, childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded.



There are 15 children diagnosed with cancer for every ONE child diagnosed with pediatric AIDS. Yet, the U.S. invests approximately $595,000 for research per victim of pediatric AIDS and only $20,000 for each victim of childhood cancer.

The government recently CUT the budget for Childhood Cancer research. As a nation, we spend $14 BILLION per year on the space program, but only $35 MILLION on childhood cancer research per year.

Pediatric cancer research does not receive nearly as much funding as adult cancer research projects. Rhabdoid research dollars are scarce as most money is diverted to well-publicized adult forms of cancer. 

Although the large, broad cancer organizations do great things, very little of their resources go to Pediatric Cancer Research. The American Cancer Society provides only 1.85% of dollars spent on research, to be spread over all 12 types of childhood cancers.  

The National Cancer Institute's (NCI) federal budget was $4.6 BILLION. Of that breast cancer received 12%, prostate cancer received 7% and only 3% of goes toward Pediatric Cancer research. Thats 3% of ALL kinds of Pediatric Cancers combined! 

Pharmaceutical companies fund over 50% of adult cancer research, but virtually nothing for kids.

Even with insurance coverage, a family will have out-of-pocket expenses of about $40,000 per year, not including travel.

An estimated 80 million people have health insurance insufficient to cover the costs of a catastrophic illness such as childhood cancer.  It is estimated that as many as 50% of families with children battling cancer will be forced to file bankruptcy!


Additional Facts: 

The 10 most common types of childhood cancer are as follows3:

      Leukemia (acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute myeloid  leukemia)

     CNS, brain, and spinal cord tumors

     Lymphomas, (including Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma)

     Skin cancer and melanomas

     Soft tissue tumors (including rhabdomyosarcoma)

     Germ cell tumors


     Bone cancers (including osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma)

     Renal cancer (including Wilms tumor)


1. National Cancer Institute
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
3. Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results/National Cancer Institute
4. Blood, Vol. 99: 4257-4264, June 15, 2002, No. 12
5. New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 360:2730-2741, June 25, 2009, No. 26