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Cancer. 1998 Apr 1;82(7):1396-400.

Increased incidence of cancer in infants in the U.S.: 1980-1990.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester 06155, USA.



During the decade between 1980-1990, the rate of cancer in children in the U.S. increased. It is unknown whether cancer in infancy, which is biologically and clinically different from cancer in older children, also increased.


To evaluate changes in cancer incidence in infants in the U.S. age < 1 year, data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program and the U.S. Bureau of the Census were used to construct age specific, population-based cancer incidence rates.


Overall, the annual cancer rate in infants increased from 189 cases per million infants between 1979-1981 to 220 between 1989-1991. At both timepoints, female infants had higher cancer rates than male infants. Although the rates for female infants remained stable at 223 between 1979-1981 versus 236 between 1989-1991, rates for male infants increased from 158 to 205 during the same timepoints. Male infants had increased rates of central nervous system (CNS) tumors (P < 0.05), neuroblastoma, and retinoblastoma; female infants had increased rates of teratomas (P < 0.01) and hepatoblastomas. Between 1979-1981, the three most common types of cancer in infants were neuroblastoma, leukemia, and renal tumors (27%, 15%, and 14%, respectively), and were neuroblastoma, CNS tumors, and leukemia between 1989-1991 (27%, 15%, and 13%, respectively).


This study shows that the rate of certain types of cancer in infants in the U.S. is increasing. Studies of both genetic and environmental factors are needed to explain these increased rates and the changing distribution of cancer in the first year of life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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