Infant cancer in the U.S. Histology-specific incidence and trends, 1973 to 1992

James G. Gurney, Julie A. Ross, Donna A. Wall, W. Archie Bleyer, Richard K. Severson, Leslie L. Robison

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238 Scopus citations


Background: Many cancers in infants demonstrate unique epidemiologic, clinical, and genetic characteristics compared with cancers in older children. Few epidemiologic reports, however, have focused on this important age group. Methods: Population-based data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program were used to estimate relative frequency, incidence rates, and average annual percentage change of rates among children in their first year of life (infants) who were diagnosed with a malignant neoplasm from 1973 to 1992 (N = 1461). Results: The greatest proportion of cases (12%) was diagnosed during the first month of life, with extracranial neuroblastoma accounting for 35% of this total. Overall, the average annual incidence rate was 223/1,000,000 infants. Extracranial neuroblastoma was the most common infant malignancy (58/1,000,000 infants per year), followed by leukemias (37/1,000,000), brain and central nervous system (CNS) tumors (34/1,000,000), and retinoblastoma (27/1,000,000). White infants had a 32% higher incidence rate than black infants. The average annual percentage increase in rates for all cancer from 1973 to 1992 was 2.9% (95% CI: 1.9%, 3.8%). For neoplasms with at least 100 cases, increasing trends were greatest for retinoblastoma (4.6%), CNS (4.1%), and extracranial neuroblastoma (3.4%). Conclusions: Incidence rates increased notably over the study period. Future studies should consider the unique presentation of infants with cancer when developing new hypotheses related to cancer etiology and gene-environment interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-432
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of pediatric hematology/oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1997


  • Brain tumors
  • Cancer
  • Children
  • Epidemiology
  • Infants
  • Leukemia
  • Neoplasms
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Trends


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