Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) accounts for 80% of all leukemias diagnosed in children. Although ALL age patterns are consistent across racial/ethnic groups, their incidence and mortality rates are highly variable. We assessed the age-standardized ALL incidence and mortality rates of Puerto Rican Hispanic (PRH) children and compared them with those of US mainland Hispanics (USH), non-Hispanic Whites (NHW), non-Hispanic Blacks (NHB), and Non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islanders (NHAPI).


Differences between racial/ethnic groups were assessed by estimating the standardized rate ratio (SRR) for 2010 to 2014. Secondary data analyses of the Puerto Rico Central Cancer Registry and the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) databases were performed for the 2001 to 2016 period.


PRH children had 31% lower incidence rates than USH, but 86% higher incidence rates than NHB. In addition, the incidence trends of ALL increased significantly from 2001 to 2016 among PRH and USH, with 5% and 0.9% per year, respectively. Moreover, PRH have a lower 5-year overall survival (81.7%) when compared with other racial/ethnic groups.


PRH children were found to have disparities in ALL incidence and mortality rates compared with other racial/ethnic groups in the US. Additional research is warranted to identify the genetic and environmental risk factors that may be associated with the disparities observed.


This is the first study reporting the incidence and mortality rates of childhood ALL for PRH and making comparisons with other racial/ethnic groups in the US.

See related commentary by Mejía-Aranguré and Núñez-Enríquez, p. 999

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