September 12, 2014 | by Denise Heady
Kidney cancer rates and thyroid cancer rates in adults have continued to rise year after year. Now a new study has found that incidence rates for these cancers are also increasing in children — particularly in African-American children.
The study, published online this month in Pediatrics, examined childhood cancer incidence rates from 2001 to 2009 and found an annual increase of nearly 5 percent for thyroid cancer and a 5.4 increase for renal carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer.
Researchers also found that there was a 1.3 percent increase in the overall cancer trend among African-American children and adolescents.
Raynald Samoa, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism at City of Hope, told CBS News that the rise in pediatric patients with thyroid cancer is undeniable. "We've seen a dramatic increase," said Samoa. "I think we've seen almost a [doubling] of referrals over past several years."
One patient Samoa is treating for the disease is 11-year-old Markie Perez.
Because Markie was born with an overactive thyroid, she always had it checked during her doctor visits. It was during a routine annual exam in 2012 that doctors found the cancer.
"There are no words, there really are no words. It's been a roller coaster," her father Mark Perez told CBS News.
Markie will need to take hormones and get regular checkups to treat the cancer, but her family knows they are lucky to have found the cancer in the early stages.
"She's gonna be fine. Doctors give her a good prognosis. She's gonna be great," Perez said in the interview.
Although the study shows an increase in thyroid cancer and kidney cancer among children in the United States, both diseases are still extremely rare, the study’s co-author David Siegel, M.D. told CBS News.
There are only eight childhood cases of thyroid cancer each year for every 1 million children. For kidney cancer, there are only 0.7 cases for every 1 million children.
The numbers may not be jolting, but the rising trend points to unanswered questions.
"The best thing about the study to me is that an increase has been reported,” said Samoa. “Now the work begins to find out why. "
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