Childhood Cancer Diagnoses Rise in Northern California Counties

California’s rate of childhood cancer diagnoses has risen by 6% since the 2000-2004 time period, reaching 17.5 per 100,000 in 2008-2012. California’s upward trend in the rates of new cancer diagnoses of children/youth ages 0-19 closely mirrors that of the nation, but in a number of northern California counties, rates have risen precipitously between 2000-2004 and 2008-2012. Though not tested for statistical significance, in Napa and Marin counties, rates rose by 69% and 58%, to reach 22.8 and 21.5 per 100,000, respectively—the highest in the state. In San Mateo, Sacramento, Sonoma, and San Francisco, all counties with incidence rates of about 20 per 100,000, rates rose between 20-39% during the same period.

The state’s childhood cancer diagnosis rate varies by ethnicity: white children have the highest rate (19.2 per 100,000), compared to Native American children, who have the lowest (12.2 per 100,000). When it comes to cancer survival however, white children have the highest five-year survival rate (84%) compared to African American children, who have the lowest survival rate (75%).

Similar to adults, survival disparities for children with cancer may be associated with socioeconomic status, health coverage, early diagnosis, quality of care, and genetic factors.

To ensure that all children afflicted with cancer have the best possible health care, policies should prioritize providing care in the context of a “medical home,” supporting pediatric centers of excellence, supporting quality of life services, and working toward a unified, efficient, and comprehensive payment system for cancer treatment. Currently, families must navigate a complicated web of service systems with confusing payment policies, which can result in delayed or denied services for children and financial hardship for families.


Related Data:

Cancer (summary)


Helpful Links

California Cancer Registry, California Dept. of Public Health

National Cancer Institute: Childhood Cancers, National Institutes of Health

Cancer and the Affordable Care Act, 2015, American Society of Clinical Oncology

Costs of Environmental Health Conditions in California Children, 2015, California Environmental Health Tracking Program

Long-Term Survivors of Childhood Cancers in the United States, 2009, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Mariotto, A. B., et al.


Kidsdata Tip

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Follow kidsdata on Facebook and Twitter to learn more. Cancer is California’s second-leading cause of death for children ages 5-14.

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