MONDAY, June 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Incidence rates of pediatric cancers vary according to race and ethnicity, according to a study published online June 21 in Cancer.

Erin L. Marcotte, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues reviewed data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results 18 (2000 to 2017) to examine the frequencies and age-adjusted incidence rates of pediatric cancer among individuals from birth to age 39 years. Incidence rates were calculated for each race and Hispanic origin category and by single year of age.

The researchers observed substantial variation in race/ethnicity-specific and overall rates for several histologic types by single year of age. Compared with Whites, Black children and young adults had a substantially lower incidence of acute lymphoid leukemia (incidence rate ratio [IRR], 0.52); the decreased incidence was strongest at ages 1 through 7 and 16 through 20 years. A decreased overall incidence of Hodgkin lymphoma and astrocytoma was seen for Hispanic individuals (IRRs, 0.50 and 0.54, respectively), while they had an increased risk for acute lymphoblastic leukemia compared with non-Hispanic Whites (IRR, 1.46), with the increased risk strongest at ages 10 through 23 years. Asian/Pacific Islanders and American Indian/Alaska Natives had a substantially decreased risk across many tumor types.

“Some of the patterns we observed may be due to racial and ethnic differences in known childhood cancer risk factors, such as exposure to infections and congenital anomalies,” Marcotte said in a statement. “We also know that the causes of each type of childhood and young adult cancer may vary depending on the age at which it occurs. For instance, exposure to Epstein-Barr virus is associated with Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosed in children younger than age 10, but not at older ages. Thus Epstein-Barr virus exposure may explain the higher risk of Hodgkin lymphoma among Hispanic children younger than age 10.”

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