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Understanding Childhood Cancer

Fast Facts

No parent ever imagines hearing the words, "your child has cancer."

What is Childhood Cancer?

Cancer is a disease in which cells grow and divide with little or no control. There are 13 different types of childhood cancer, each with multiple sub types.  Cancers are typically named for the organ or the cell where the cancer begins. Some cancers can spread from the original site and move to other places in the body. While survival rates have steadily increased, scientists still do not know much about what causes cancer in children. Most children’s cancers are caused by random genetic mutations.  

Is Childhood Cancer Rare?

It is important to remember that cancer is uncommon in children. Most cancers (99%) develop in adults, and it is most common in older adults. About one out of every six adults will develop cancer during his or her lifetime, while one in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before the age of 20. 

Each year, more than 15,500 children are diagnosed with cancer and the average age of diagnosis is 6. Cancer affects all ethnic, gender, and socio-economic groups and more than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year. In Connecticut there are approximately 200 children diagnosed each year and over 525 children currently in treatment.  Today, nearly 86% of these children will survive.

Where Can We Go For Treatment?

Connecticut has two premiere pediatric cancer treatment centers: Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford and Yale New Haven Children's Hospital in New Haven.