Children's cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of childrens' cancers, per year in 2011-2013, UK

 

Deaths

Deaths from childrens' cancers, per year in 2012-2014, UK

Survival

Survive childrens' cancers for 5 or more years, 2006-10, England and Wales

  • There were around 1,700 new cases of cancer in children each year in the UK in 2011-2013, that’s around 5 cases diagnosed every day.
  • In boys, there were around 900 cases of cancer each year in the UK in 2011-2013.
  • In girls, there were around 790 cases of cancer each year in the UK in 2011-2013.
  • Cancer in children accounts for less than 1% of all new cancer cases in the UK (2011-2013). 
  • 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.
  • Since the late 1970s, cancer incidence rates in children have increased by more than a quarter (29%) in Great Britain. The increase is larger in girls where rates have increased by more than a third (35%), than in boys where rates have increased by almost a quarter (23%).
  • Over the last decade, cancer incidence rates in children have remained stable, with similar trends for boys and girls.
  • Throughout Europe, children's cancer incidence rates are lowest in the UK and highest in Northern Europe.

Read more in-depth children's cancer incidence statistics

  • There were around 260 cancer deaths in children each year in the UK in 2012-2014, that’s around 5 deaths every week.
  • In boys in the UK, there were around 140 cancer deaths each year in 2012-2014.
  • In girls in the UK, there were around 120 cancer deaths each year in 2012-2014.
  • Cancer in children accounts for less than 1% of all cancer deaths in the UK (2012-2014).
  • 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 fallen by more than 60% since the 1970s.

Read more in-depth children's cancer mortality statistics

  • Around three-quarters (76%) of children diagnosed with cancer in Great Britain survive for ten years or more (2001-05).
  • More than 8 in 10 (82%) children diagnosed with cancer in Great Britain survive for five years or more (2006-10).
  • Around 9 in 10 (91%) children diagnosed with cancer in Great Britain survive 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 beyond ten years, now it's around three-quarters.
  • At least 15,000 more children have survived than would have done if survival had remained as it was in the 1970s.

Read more in-depth children's cancer survival statistics

  • 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.

Read more in-depth risk factors for children's cancers

The latest available statistics for children's cancer in the UK are; incidence of all cancers combined 2011-2013, incidence by cancer type 2006-2008, incidence by cancer subtype 1996-2005, mortality from all cancers combined 2012-2014, mortality by cancer type 1996-2005, and survival 2006-2010.

Statistics for specific cancer types are also available for earlier time periods in Great Britain.

The ICD codes Open a glossary item for all children's cancers incidence and survival are ICD-10 C00-C97 excluding C44 (all malignant neoplasms excluding non-melanoma skin cancer), and ICD-10 D32-D33, D35.2-D35.4, D42-D43 and D44.3-D44.5 (all benign and uncertain or unknown behaviour brain, other central nervous system [CNS] and intracranial tumours).

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, stages Open a glossary item and co-morbidities Open a glossary item. The survival time experienced by an individual patient may be much higher or lower, depending on specific patient and tumour characteristics.

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.

Citation

You are welcome to reuse this Cancer Research UK statistics content for your own work.

Credit us as authors by referencing Cancer Research UK as the primary source. Suggested styles are:

Web content: Cancer Research UK, full URL of the page, Accessed [month] [year]. 

Publications: Cancer Research UK ([year of publication]), Name of publication, Cancer Research UK. 

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the essential work of the cancer registries in the United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Cancer Registries, without which there would be no data.

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