Childhood Cancer Cases High In Northeast

Armen Hareyan's picture

Childhood cancer cases are the highest in Northeast, questioning the reasons of why cases occur more in some regions and less in others.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined data of 90% of US population between 2001 and 2003 and found 36446 reported of childhood cancer cases. The report stated significant difference among children living in different regions. Researchers suggest that the difference is because of inaccurate reports, but not because of actual difference of cases occurred.

It is already known that older adults can report different risk of suffering from cancer, and this is mainly because of different lifestyle types adopted by adults. Bad habits, such as unhealthy food, smoking, drinking, and lack of exercising are all leading to health complications, and still it takes some time for these factors to result in cancer. In children, however, these bad habits don't really work, and the rates should not vary the way they did in this study.

Childhood cancer is itself a rarely occurring disease - 166 out of 1000000 children - but the rates are still high and there are significantly more cases occurring among white children and boys. Cases occur in older children more frequently than in younger children.

The average number of cases occurring among boys is 174 out of 1000000 children, compared with 157 cases out of 1000000 children occurring among girls.


White children report 173 cases out of 1000000 children, compared to 164 cases among Hispanics and 118 cases among blacks.

Regional difference among childhood cancer cases varies from 179 in Northeast to 159 in South, from 166 in Midwest to 165 in West.

Researchers are now puzzling the reasons leading to such differences among cases. The main reason mentioned by researchers is that there are cases which were not properly reported, leading to lots of unreported cases.

There are also other issues probably affecting the differences among different regions, but these factors are not that significant and they still need to be approved as reasons seriously affecting childhood cancer cases.

Among these factors researchers mention radiation: radiation exposure is known to be a reason of numerous cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma and brain cancers. Radiation mainly comes from X-rays, nuclear plant emissions and radon gas. More research is needed to clearly estimate the risk percentage of radiation to estimate how seriously radiation affects regional differences among occurring cases.

Another reason why cancer cases are more common in Northeast is that pollution is more there, leading to health complications. However, on the other hand, health centers in Northeast are more accessible and Northeast hospitals are generally more active in accurately reporting disease cases than health centers in other regions. Probably, this is why Northeast reports more childhood cancer cases than other regions do.

"This is an interesting study, but as a practicing oncologist, I won't be advising families any differently. And, as a father of three sons, I wouldn't have any added concern as a parent living in the Northeast," said Dr. Adam Levy from Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City. "My fear is that people may over-interpret this study, and parents really don't need added anxiety. We're still talking about very rare pediatric cancers and mild differences. Mostly, this gives epidemiological researchers clues. Parents don't need to become overly worried by this."