Childhood cancer Key Stats
Key messages on incidence, survival, mortality, risk factors (causes) and a summary table of the statistics for childhood cancer are given here.
The latest statistics available for childhood cancer are; incidence 2009-2011, mortality 2009-2011, and survival 2006-2010. Source years are specified in the statistics table. Find out why these are the latest statistics available.
- ‘Childhood’ refers to those children aged 0 to 14, inclusively.
- Childhood cancers are generally very different to those seen in adults.
- Childhood cancers can be grouped into twelve types:
section reviewed 13/11/12
section updated 13/11/12
- Cancer is relatively rare in children, accounting for less than 1% of all cancers.
- In the UK an average of around 1,600 children are diagnosed with cancer each year, that's 30 children every week.
- Around 1 in 500 children in Great Britain will develop some form of cancer by 14 years of age.
- Leukaemia is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in children.
- Leukaemia, brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours and lymphomas account for more than two-thirds of all cancers diagnosed in children.
- In Great Britain childhood cancer incidence rates have increased by more than 40% since the late 1960s. The reasons for this are poorly understood, though improvements in diagnosis and registration are likely to have played a part.
- Throughout Europe, childhood cancer incidence rates are lowest in the UK and highest in Northern Europe.
Read more in-depth childhood cancer incidence statistics.
section reviewed 05/06/14
section updated 05/06/14
- More children than ever are surviving cancer.
- At least 15,000 more children have survived for at least ten years after being diagnosed with cancer than would have done if survival had remained as it was in the early 1970s.
- Five-year survival for children’s cancer has more than doubled since the late 1960s.
- It is estimated that there are at least 33,000 people in the UK alive having been diagnosed with a childhood cancer and survived more than five years.
- Three-quarters of children with cancer are now cured, compared with around a quarter in the late 1960s.
- For every ten children diagnosed with cancer, more than eight now survive for five years or more, compared with fewer than three in ten in the late 1960s.
- Almost nine out of ten children with leukaemia now survive for five years or more, thanks to improved treatments. In the late 1960s only around one in ten survived.
- Nearly all children diagnosed with retinoblastoma (a type of eye cancer) are cured.
- Five-year survival for children with hepatoblastoma (a type of liver cancer) has more than quadrupled since the late 1970s.
- Five-year survival for children with rhabdomyosarcoma (a type of muscle cancer) has more than doubled since the early 1970s.
- More than eight out of ten children survive kidney cancer for five years or more compared to only six in ten in the early 1970s.
- More than six out of ten children with neuroblastoma (a cancer of the nerve tissue) survive for five years or more.
Read more in-depth childhood cancer survival statistics.
section reviewed 20/01/15
section updated 20/01/15
- In the UK cancer is the leading cause of death in children aged 1-14 years and accounts for almost a fifth of all deaths in this age group.
- Around 250 children die from cancer each year1 in the UK.
- Brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours are the most common cause of childhood cancer death.
- Thanks to many years of dedicated research, the death rate for children with cancer has more than halved since the 1970s.
Read more in-depth childhood cancer mortality statistics.
section reviewed 02/01/14
section updated 02/01/14
- A child’s risk of developing cancer depends on factors including age, genetics and other risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).
- Lifestyle risk factors probably have less impact on childhood cancer risk than adult cancer risk, because children have had less time to be exposed to these factors. Overall, evidence on childhood cancer risk factors is limited, mainly because of the relative rarity and diversity of this group of cancers.
- Childhood leukaemia risk may relate to parental smoking, parental exposure to painting, or high-level residential exposure to magnetic fields, but evidence is unclear.
- Childhood brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours risk may relate to certain congenital disorders and genetic syndromes, but evidence is unclear.
- Childhood lymphoma risk may relate to certain infections and problems with the immune system, but evidence is unclear.
Read more in-depth risk factors for childhood cancers.
section reviewed 27/01/15
section updated 27/01/15
|CHILDHOOD CANCER STATISTICS||Boys||Girls||Children||Country||Year3|
|Number of new cases per year1||862||713||1,574||UK||2009-
|Incidence rate per million population2||154.9||134.5||144.9|
|Number of deaths per year1||132||120||252||UK||2009-
|Mortality rate per million population2||23.3||22.3||22.8|
1. Average of the last three years, including benign, unknown or uncertain behaviour brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours 2. World age-standardised 3. Latest statistics available
section reviewed 05/06/14
section updated 05/06/14
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