- 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 children's 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, children's cancer incidence rates are lowest in the UK and highest in Northern Europe.
Children's cancer statistics
New cases of childrens' cancers, per year in 2009-2011, UK
Deaths from childrens' cancers, per year in 2009-2011, UK
Survive childrens' cancers for 5 or more years, 2006-10, England and Wales
- 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 year in the UK.
- Brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours are the most common cause of children's cancer death.
- Thanks to many years of dedicated research, the death rate for children with cancer has more than halved since the 1970s.
- 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 cancer as a child 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.
- 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 cancer risk in childhood than adult cancer risk, because children have had less time to be exposed to these factors. Overall, evidence on children's cancer risk factors is limited, mainly because of the relative rarity and diversity of this group of cancers.
- Leukaemia risk in childhood may relate to parental smoking, parental exposure to painting, or high-level residential exposure to magnetic fields, but evidence is unclear.
- Brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours risk in childhood may relate to certain congenital disorders and genetic syndromes, but evidence is unclear.
- Lymphoma risk in childhood may relate to certain infections and problems with the immune system, but evidence is unclear.
- At least 33,000 people are alive in the UK by the end of 2012 who have previously been diagnosed with a cancer in childhood and survived their cancer for at least five years.
- Data table: Childhood cancer incidence in Great Britain 1996-2005 (February 2014)
- Data table: Childhood cancer mortality in Great Britain 1995-2004 (February 2014)
- Childhood cancer infographic poster (November 2014)
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The latest available statistics for children's cancer in the UK are; incidence 2009-2011, mortality 2009-2011, and survival 2006-2010.
Statistics for specific cancer types are also available for earlier time periods in Great Britain.
The ICD codes for all children's cancers mortality are ICD-10 C00-C97 (all malignant tumours), and ICD-10 D32-D33, D35.2-D35.4, D42-D43 and D44.3-D44.5 (all benign, uncertain and unknown brain, other central nervous system [CNS] and intracranial tumours).
'Childhood' or 'children' refers to those persons aged 0 to 14, inclusively.
Cancer is rare in children compared with the adult population and for this reason incidence and mortality rates are presented per million rather than per 100,000 population. The rarity of cancer in childhood also means that there is much international collaboration for children's cancer research, so World (rather than European) age-standardised rates (AS rates) are presented to allow comparisons with international publications. However, Europeans AS rates are available to download.
Survival statistics give an overall picture of survival and (unless otherwise stated) include all adults (15-99) diagnosed, at all ages,
Time periods for the follow-up statistics are detailed within the content.
See information and explanations on terminology used for statistics and reporting of cancer, and the methods used to calculate some of the statistics are also available.
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