Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

They are words a parent never wants to hear: “Your child has cancer.”

childhood cancer awareness month

In the United States, one in 285 children under age 20 will be diagnosed with a cancer each year. While relatively rare, pediatric cancers are often devastating. These cancers are the leading cause of death from disease of children and adolescents.

Thanks to advances propelled by cancer research, pediatric cancer death rates have declined by nearly 70 percent over the past four decades. Despite those advances, approximately 15,590 new cases of cancer were diagnosed among children from birth to 19 years, and more than 1,780 died from the disease in 2018, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). 

The most common types of cancers in children are acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), brain and other central nervous system (CNS) tumors, and neuroblastoma. Taken together, these cancers are accounted for about half of the new cases in 2018.

“Pediatric cancer research in many ways has played a leading role in the history of cancer research,” explains John M. Maris, MD, the Giulio D’Angio Endowed Professor of pediatrics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Many of the early discoveries of how chemotherapy can work to cure cancer were first seen in children with cancer.” 


September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

What is the AACR Doing in This Area?

Childhood Cancer-Focused Conferences

In September, the AACR will hold a special conference, Advances in Pediatric Cancer Research. This conference will address the unique issues and challenges in investigating the biologic basis of childhood cancers and translating recent findings into new treatment approaches. Future conferences on this topic are being planned for 2020.

Grants and Awards

In 2019 several AACR awards went to research projects focused on various aspects of pediatric cancer research. These awardees were:

2019 AACR Margaret Foti Scholar-in-Training Award

2019 AACR Minority and Minority-Serving Institution Faculty Scholars in Cancer Research

2019 AACR Women in Cancer Research Scholar Award

2019 AACR Undergraduate Scholar Award

Pediatric Cancer Working Group

The mission of the AACR’s Pediatric Cancer Working Group (PCWG) is to establish childhood cancer research as a global priority supported by improved funding, the very latest technologies, and the best educational strategies. The PCWG provides a forum for communication and collaboration among basic, clinical, and translational researchers in academia, industry, and government on all aspects of pediatric cancer research. The group serves as an interface bridging the AACR with advocacy and legislative groups to promote the prevention and cure of cancers in children. 

In June 2017, the AACR published its first set of consensus screening recommendations for children with common cancer predisposition syndromes in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the AACR. These recommendations emerged from the Childhood Cancer Predisposition Workshop held by the AACR Pediatric Cancer Working Group in October 2016.