According to a story from nbcnews.com, a recent map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that children have the highest rates of cancer in the Northeast. By contrast, the cancer rates in children are lowest in the South. The most common types of pediatric cancer in the Northeast and lymphoma and brain cancer. Meanwhile, leukemia is more frequent further west.
Why Are There Regional Differences?
Childhood cancer is generally rare, and its hard what to make of the information. The main importance of the data is to help doctors prepare themselves for what diseases they could encounter and to ensure that they are ready to treat cases of pediatric cancer. Researchers are doing their best to theorize why cancer rates in children appear to be higher in a specific region. Dr. David Siegel, who works with the CDC, says that one reason for the disparity could be the result of differences in exposure to possible carcinogens, which could include radiation, various chemicals, secondhand smoke, and pollution.
The National Cancer Institute also weighed in on the data. Genetic variations within different regions could be another factor that could explain childhood cancer rates. Heritable genetic mutations and variants play a direct role in around five percent of cases.
The CDC researchers also theorized that pediatric cancer rates could vary depending on ethnicity as well. Children of Latino descent are more likely to have acute lymphoblastic leukemia, for example. Therefore, states with a high Latino population may report higher rates.
Disparities in Screening and Reporting
Another possibility is disparities in different regions in regards to screening, diagnosis, reporting and detection. The Northeast also has higher rates of adult cancer as well, which suggests that states from this region may have more robust systems of screening and reporting in comparison to the South and other areas.
Around 15,000 children and teenagers (age 19 or younger) get diagnosed with some type of cancer every year, and about two thirds of these cases affect kids 14 or younger. Overall survival rates have been reasonably high at 80 percent. The new map from the CDC will help prepare caregivers so that outcomes for pediatric cancer can continue to improve.
Check out the original report from the CDC here.