According to newly released data by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), brain cancer is now the deadliest childhood cancer. For the first time, brain cancer is ahead of leukemia, reported CDC experts, who reviewed 15 years of data collected from death certificates.

In 2014, about a quarter of these cancer deaths, or 534, were attributed to brain cancer, compared with 445 leukemia deaths, according to the CDC.

“While this news is disheartening, it underscores the urgency all of us in the brain tumor community feel is necessary to accelerate the availability of new and effective therapies to treat pediatric brain cancer,” said Elizabeth M. Wilson, president and CEO, American Brain Tumor Association.

Treatment options vary and can be strongly influenced by the age of the child. Childhood tumors frequently appear in different locations and behave differently than brain tumors in adults. Often surgery may be challenging due to the location of the tumor, while radiation therapy may damage the development of a child’s brain.

The brain is protected by the blood-brain barrier, which helps keep out many dangerous chemicals. This barrier prevents many cancer drugs from getting to brain tissue or brain tumors.

Children that survive are often left with major gross motor and cognitive deficits that are permanent due to the toxicity of current treatments. But hope is on the horizon for these kids as we support researchers to explore novel cancer therapies and targeted treatments.

AKBTC, Executive Director, Amy Weinstein says “By bridging the gap between private, public and governmental agencies, and leveraging resources, we can unite against this common enemy and change the outcome for all children battling brain tumors.  At the upcoming “From Bench to Bedside and Beyond” conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, we will encourage key stake holders across the different disciplines to work together and accelerate research progress.”

With the pediatric cancer community supporting research into this disease, children currently battling brain tumors have hope for a brighter future.

NY Times Article: Brain Cancer Now Leading Childhood Cancer Killer

CBS News: Brain Cancer Now the Leading Childhood Cancer Killer