Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Childhood cancer: the facts

Cancer is terrible, but especially so in a child. It kills more children than any other disease in Australia1 and each death represents at least 65 years of life lost from normal expectancy.Typically, children’s cancers are diagnosed in patients who are 15 years or younger.3   


Each year, 950 children and adolescents in Australia6 – and 175,000 children worldwideare diagnosed with cancer.  

Incidence is higher in boys (average of 337 per year vs 282 for girls).3

Almost half of childhood cancers are diagnosed in children aged 0–4.


Every week, nearly three children and adolescents in Australia6 – and 1,800 children worldwide5 die from cancer.

Survival rates

Sixty years ago, cancer was nearly always a death sentence for a child.7 Today, eight out of 10 children survive.3

In Australia, an estimated one in 900 young adults aged between 16 and 45 years is a survivor of childhood cancer. However, up to 70 per cent of long-term survivors go on to develop one or more chronic health conditions as a result of having been treated for cancer as children.8

Many survivors experience illness due to the late effects of disease and cancer-related therapies – including organ toxicity, growth and hormonal deficiencies, infertility and secondary cancers.3

The disease

Individual causes remain unknown for more than 90 per cent of childhood cancer cases.9

Almost half of all childhood cancer begins in the womb.9

The most common childhood cancers are acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, brain cancer, lymphoma and neuroblastoma.9

Childhood cancer does not discriminate; it can affect any child from any socioeconomic or cultural background.9

Unlike many adult cancers, childhood cancer is not associated with lifestyle and nothing can be done to prevent it.9

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2009. A picture of Australia’s children 2009. Cat. No. PHE 112. AIHW: Canberra.
  3. Youlden D, Baade P, Ward L, Valery P, Hassall T, Green AC, Aitken JF, 2010. Childhood cancer survival in Australia, 1995-2004. Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control, Cancer Council Queensland and the Australian Paediatric Cancer Registry: Brisbane, Queensland.
  4. Australian Paediatric Cancer Registry
  6. 0-19 years incidence data. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality (ACIM) Books, 2015 Accessed 9 September 2015.
  7. (Fewer than 3 in 10 children survived cancer in the late 1960s)
  8. Children’s Cancer Institute
  9. Children and Cancer, in Children’s Health and the Environment, a WHO Training Package for the Health Sector, World Health Organization. In turn citing:
    • Birch JM. Genes & Cancer” Arch Dis Child 1999, 80:1-3.
    • Lichtenstein P et al” N Engl J Med 2000, 13;343(2) 78-85

No comments:

Post a Comment