Medline: 1399133

International Journal of Cancer 52(4): 538-543, 1992.

International variations in the incidence of neuroblastoma.

Stiller CA, Parkin DM


The International Agency for Research on Cancer has coordinated a worldwide study of childhood cancer incidence, with data from over 50 countries. We present here the results for neuroblastoma. In predominantly white Caucasian populations the age-standardized rate was 7-12 per million, and 6-10% of all childhood cancers were neuroblastomas. Rates were highest in the first year of life (25-50 per million, 30% of total neuroblastoma incidence), and decreased with age to 15-20 per million (50% of the total) at age 1-4, 2-4 per million (15%) at 5-9 and 1-1.5 per million (5%) at 10-14. In the United States, black children had an incidence of 8.5 per million compared with 11.5 among Whites; Blacks tended to be older than Whites at diagnosis. The highest rate in Africa was in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (8.0 per million) and the lowest in West Nile, Uganda, with no cases registered. Incidence in Israel was similar to that in many white populations, with Jews having a particularly high rate. In other parts of West Asia neuroblastoma had a low relative frequency, suggesting that incidence is low. Rates were also low throughout much of southern and eastern Asia, including India and China. Incidence in Japan was somewhat higher, though less than in Western countries, with the deficit most pronounced in the first year of life; these data relate to the period before mass screening of infants for neuroblastoma in the regions concerned. Incidence was generally higher in regions and among ethnic groups enjoying a higher standard of living, though previous studies within single countries had suggested that neuroblastoma is more common among less affluent groups. Blacks in Africa and the United States may have a weaker genetic predisposition to neuroblastoma, but some of the deficit in many developing countries is likely to be due to under-diagnosis.

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