Between 2001 and 2010, the incidence of cancers among children under 14 years of age was 140 cases per 1 million children per year, estimates an international study coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – a specialized agency of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The most common cancer in this age group is leukemia (almost a third of cases), followed by central nervous system tumors (20%) and lymphomas, the study said, after analyzing about 300,000 cases diagnosed in 62 countries.
The IARC also stated that some of this increase may be due to better or earlier detection of these cancers.
But the increase in the incidence of pediatric cancers could also be influenced by “external factors, such as infections or certain pollutants present in the environment”, adds the research agency.
In adolescents (15-19 years), the incidence of cancers is estimated at 185 cases per million people each year, also published in the British magazine The Lancet Oncology .
Lymphoma is the most frequent (23% of cases), followed by carcinomas and melanomas (skin cancers) at 21%.
“Cancer is a significant cause of death in children and adolescents, despite its relatively rare occurrence before age 20,” said Christopher Wild, director of IARC. He hopes that the data from this study will help “raise awareness, better understand and combat this neglected area of ??early life”.
The figures are probably still underestimated, especially in low-income countries, due to the under-reporting of cancer cases and the lack of diagnostic equipment, the IARC also points out.
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