Scourge of childhood leukemia deflated

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Up until the early 1980s, a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) the most common form of childhood leukemia was considered a death sentence. Now a new study finds that five-year survival rates for kids with ALL rose to 90 percent in the period 2000 to 2005.

Each year, about 12,000 children aged 14 and younger are diagnosed with cancer, and about 34 percent of these cases are leukemia. ALL accounts for approximately 75 percent of all childhood leukemia cases, which is why the vast improvement in survival rates over the last few decades is so crucial.

The latest study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, analyzed data on over 21,000 patients who were diagnosed with childhood leukemia between 1990 and 2005. Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that ten-year ALL survival rates increased from 80 percent between 1990 and 1994, to 84 percent in 1995 to 1999. The recent results show that this positive trend is continuing.

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross was quite pleased with the latest statistics, especially considering that, when he was a medical student, an ALL diagnosis had a 90 percent mortality rate. Now it s the opposite, he says, 90 percent of kids are surviving it s just a miraculous breakthrough.