New data shows treatment advances are helping to improve childhood cancer survival rates in the Garden State.

“What we’re finding is the cancer mortality rates among some of the most vulnerable populations of New Jersey, which are children, has been declining over time, and it’s declined significantly,” said Nan Stroup, director of the State Cancer Registry and an associate professor at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

She noted, “Our cancer surveillance data has shown that the cancer mortality rate has dropped 50 percent from 1979 to 2013.”

According to Stroup, this positive trend “has been partly attributed to the growing effective treatment that children have been obtaining over the years, and also an increase in their participation in clinical trials, novel treatment methods for their cancers.”

She noted data for Hispanic and Asian children had been too low to use reliably in previous statistical calculations, but enough data has now been collected to include it, and it indicates a significant decline in mortality form cancer.

Stroup said some types of cancer are exceedingly rare in children, but "there’s a growing number of different treatment modalities that are available to clinicians to use to treat children with cancer.”

The data shows boys have higher rates of cancer than girls, and this is pervasive across all age and ethnic groups. So far, researchers don’t understand why this is so.

Stroup says nobody wants to have their child diagnosed with cancer but parents should know “there are effective therapies that are available and children are living longer.”

According to research compiled by the Rutgers Cancer Institute, typical cancers in children differ from those diagnosed in adults.

The research shows in New Jersey and across the country, leukemias, lymphomas, cancers of the central nervous system and neuroblastomas account for more than 50 percent of childhood cancers diagnosed each year, while the most common cancers among adults include lung, colorectal, female breast and prostate.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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