Brain cancer now leading childhood cancer killer

FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2013 file photo, chemotherapy is administered to a cancer patient via intravenous drip in Durham, N.C. In a study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and results published online Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, by the New England Journal of Medicine, a gene-activity test that was used to gauge early-stage breast cancer patient's risk accurately identified a group of women whose cancers are so likely to respond to hormone-blocking drugs that adding chemo would do little if any good while exposing them to side effects and other health risks. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2013 file photo, chemotherapy is administered to a cancer patient via intravenous drip in Durham, N.C. In a study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and results published online Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, by the New England Journal of Medicine, a gene-activity test that was used to gauge early-stage breast cancer patient's risk accurately identified a group of women whose cancers are so likely to respond to hormone-blocking drugs that adding chemo would do little if any good while exposing them to side effects and other health risks. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

NEW YORK (AP) – A review of 15 years of death certificates has prompted a change in the ranking of dangerous childhood cancers.

Sally Curtin of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says leukemia has been supplanted by brain cancer in the U.S.

There are still more new cases of leukemia annually, but fewer deaths. Experts say that’s due to medical advances and because leukemia is easier to treat.

The brain is protected by a barrier which helps keep many dangerous chemicals – including many cancer drugs – from getting to brain tissue or brain tumors. Surgery is difficult and sometimes impossible. And radiation can damage the development of a child’s brain.

Cancer is the fourth leading cause of death for children overall. In 2014, about a quarter of cancer deaths, or 534, were due to brain cancer. There were 445 leukemia deaths.

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