Northeast Region’s High Childhood Cancer Rates Re-examined

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A study revealed cancer diagnoses were reported as being the highest in New Hampshire and broader Northeast regions.

Background

In a 2018 descriptive study, cancer incidence in children (ages 0-19) in diagnosis years 2003-2014 was reported as being highest in New Hampshire and in the Northeast region. David A. Siegel, MD, MPH, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Source: Rees JR, Weiss JE, Riddle BL, Craver K, Zens MS, Celaya MO, Peacock JL. Pediatric Cancer by Race, Ethnicity and Region in the United States. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2022 Jul 21:EPI-22-0317. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-22-0317. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35861625.

Methods

Using the Cancer in North America (CiNA) analytic file, we tested the hypotheses that incidence rates in the Northeast were higher than those in other regions of the United States either overall or by race/ethnicity group and that rates in New Hampshire were higher than the Northeast region as a whole.

Results

In 2003-2014, pediatric cancer incidence was significantly higher in the Northeast than other regions of the United States overall and among non-Hispanic Whites and Blacks, but not among Hispanics and other racial minorities. However, there was no significant variability in incidence in the states within the Northeast overall or by race/ethnicity subgroup. Overall, statistically significantly higher incidence was seen in the Northeast for lymphomas (RR 1.15; 99% CI 1.10-1.19), central nervous system neoplasms (RR 1.12; 99% CI 1.07-1.16), and neuroblastoma (RR 1.13; 99% CI 1.05-1.21).

Conclusion

Pediatric cancer incidence is statistically significantly higher in the Northeast than in the rest of the United States, but within the Northeast, states have comparable incidence. Differences in cancer subtypes by ethnicity merit further investigation.

Impact

Our analyses clarify and extend previous reports by statistically confirming the hypothesis that the Northeast has the highest pediatric cancer rates in the country, by providing similar comparisons stratified by race/ethnicity, and by assessing variability within the Northeast. We thank NAACCR for the use of the analytical file and for the NAACCR Institutional Review Board approval of our study protocol.

This research article exploring cancer incidence in children is available in the American Association for Cancer Research.

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