Childhood cancer Key Facts
Key messages on incidence, survival, mortality, risk factors (causes) and a summary table of the statistics for childhood cancer are given here.
- Download these Key Facts Childhood cancer Key Facts
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 5,600 more children have survived for at least five years after being diagnosed with cancer than would have done if survival rates had remained as they were in the early 1970s.
- The survival rate for children’s cancer has more than doubled since the 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.
- More than eight 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 rates for children with hepatoblastoma (a type of liver cancer) have more than trebled since the late 1970s.
- Survival rates for children with rhabdomyosarcoma (a type of muscle cancer) have doubled since the early 1970s.
- Now around eight out of ten children survive kidney cancer compared to only six in ten in the early 1970s.
- Around six out of ten children with neuroblastoma (a cancer of the nerve tissue) are cured.
Read more in-depth childhood cancer survival statistics.
section reviewed 19/11/13
section updated 19/11/13
- 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
- Very little is known about the causes of most childhood cancers. Several rare genetic syndromes, such as Fanconi anaemia and Li-Fraumeni syndrome, are associated with an increased risk of certain childhood cancers.
- There is evidence that some childhood leukaemia may develop after an abnormal response to infection early in life.
- Children with Down’s syndrome are at greater risk of developing leukaemia.
- Two in five retinoblastomas (a type of eye cancer) are caused by an inherited faulty gene.
- There has been much public concern about the possible health effects of electromagnetic sources such as power lines and domestic wiring, but most studies have shown no evidence for an increase in risk.
- The high incidence of certain childhood cancers in some regions of the world is linked with infections by viruses such as Epstein-Barr, hepatitis B and human herpes virus 8.
- Some children treated with radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy are at greater risk of developing a second primary cancer.
Read more in-depth risk factors for childhood cancers.
section reviewed 22/02/12
section updated 16/11/11
|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|
|Five-year survival rate||-||-||82%||Great
|Ten-year survival rate||-||-||76%||Great
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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