- 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.
- Around three-quarters (76%) of children diagnosed with cancer in Great Britain survive their disease for ten years or more (2001-05).
- More than 8 in 10 (82%) children diagnosed with cancer in Great Britain survive their disease for five years or more (2006-10).
- Around 9 in 10 (91%) children diagnosed with cancer in Great Britain survive their disease for one year or more (2006-10).
- Cancer survival is similar for children whatever age they are diagnosed.
- Survival for children's cancers is improving and has more than doubled in the last 40 years in Great Britain.
- In the 1970s, more than a third of children diagnosed with cancer survived their disease beyond ten years, now it's around three-quarters.
- At least 15,000 more children have survived their cancer than would have done if survival had remained as it was in the 1970s.
- 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 2010-2012, 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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