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Childhood cancer Key Stats

Childhood Stats DoughnutKey messages on incidence, survival, mortality, risk factors (causes) and a summary table of the statistics for childhood cancer are given here.

More comprehensive information and statistics for childhood cancer is here: incidence, survival, mortality, risk factors (causes), long-term follow-up and diagnosis and treatment.

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.

About childhood cancer

  • ‘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:

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section updated 13/11/12

How common is childhood cancer?

Read more in-depth childhood cancer incidence statistics.

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section updated 05/06/14

How many children survive cancer?

  • 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.

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section updated 20/01/15

How many children die from cancer?

Read more in-depth childhood cancer mortality statistics.

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section updated 02/01/14

What causes childhood cancer?

  • 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 table

CHILDHOOD CANCER STATISTICS Boys Girls Children Country Year3
Number of new cases per year1 862 713 1,574 UK 2009-
2011
Incidence rate per million population2 154.9 134.5 144.9
Number of deaths per year1 132 120 252 UK 2009-
2011
Mortality rate per million population2 23.3 22.3 22.8
Five-year survival - - 82% Great
Britain
2006-
2010
Ten-year survival - - 76% 2006-
2010

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

More detailed statistics on childhood cancer can be found using these links: incidence, survival, mortality, risk factors (causes), long-term follow-up and diagnosis and treatment.

section reviewed 05/06/14
section updated 05/06/14

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Updated: 27 January 2015