5 Most Common Pediatric Cancers

Pediatric cancer is one of the scariest diagnoses a parent can hear. While advancements in medicine have contributed to higher survival rates, pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 15 (acco.org). At Walk In Sunshine, we want to build awareness of pediatric cancer and the toll it takes on children and their families. Here is information on the five most common pediatric cancers.

5 Most Common Pediatric Cancers


Leukemias are cancer of bone marrow; stem cells that make up bone marrow can develop into different types of blood cells, including white blood cells, which protect the body from infection. When they grow out of control, the normal ratio of white blood cells is unbalanced, and the body can no longer function efficiently. There are 2 main times of leukemia: acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). The difference between the two just depends on which type of stem cells in the bone marrow become cancerous. ALL accounts for 75% of all leukemia diagnosis. It is most common between ages 2-5, and is more common in Hispanic and White children, especially boys. The 5-year survival rate for ALL is 90%. AML is more common during the first 2 years of life. The 5-year survival rate for this type of leukemia is 65-70% (cancer.gov).


Lymphoma begins in the immune system. It is cancer of the lymphocytes, which are the white blood cells that come from bone marrow cells. Lymphomas differ from leukemia in that lymphomas typically stay in the vessels and nodes of the lymph system, which fights infections and other diseases, while leukemias are found in bone marrow and blood. The 5-year survival rate is 91% (cancer.net).

Brain & Spinal Cord Tumors

1 in 4 of all childhood cancers are brain or spinal cord tumors. Brain and spinal cord tumors encompass a large number of cancers, all with unique characteristics, treatments, and prognosis. Malignant tumors, which are fast-growing, are more common in boys, while non-malignant tumors are more common in girls. The 5-year survival rate for a child with a brain or spinal cord tumor is 75% (cancer.org).


Neuroblastoma originates in the nerve cells, especially when a child is first developing. It is the most common cancer among infants, found primarily in children under 2 years old. 9 out of 10 neuroblastomas are diagnosed by age 5. The 5-year survival rate for neuroblastoma is 81% (cancer.org).


Nephroblastoma, also known as a Wilms tumor, stems from immature kidney cells that filter extra water, salt, and waste from our blood. It is most common in children ages 3-4, and slightly more common in girls than boys, as well as Black children than children of other races. The 5-year survival rate for nephroblastoma is 93% (cancer.net).

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