Children's cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of children's cancers, per year in 2012-2014, UK

 

Deaths

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

Survival

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

Not well understood

Children's cancers risk factors are not well understood, mainly because this group of cancers are relatively rare and diverse
 

 

 

  • There were around 1,800 new cases of cancer in children each year in the UK in 2012-2014, that’s around 5 cases diagnosed every day.
  • In boys, there were around 950 cases of cancer each year in the UK in 2012-2014.
  • In girls, there were around 810 cases of cancer each year in the UK in 2012-2014.
  • Cancer in children accounts for less than 1% of all new cancer cases in the UK (2012-2014).
  • Among children in the UK, cancer incidence rates are highest in those aged 0-4 (2012-2014).
  • Since the early 1990s, cancer incidence rates in children have increased by around a tenth (11%) in the UK. The increase is larger in girls (15%) than boys (9%).
  • Over the last decade, cancer incidence rates in children have remained stable, with similar trends for boys and girls.
  • Leukaemia, brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours and lymphomas account for more than two-thirds of all cancers diagnosed in children.
  • Leukaemia is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in children.
  • Around 1 child per 500 in Great Britain will be diagnosed with cancer by age 14, it is estimated.
  • In Great Britain at least 33,000 people were still alive at the end of 2012, having previously been diagnosed with a childhood cancer and having survived that cancer for at least five years.
  • Throughout Europe, children's cancer incidence rates are lowest in the UK and highest in Northern Europe.

See more in-depth children's cancers 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.
  • Since the late 1970s, cancer mortality rates in children have decreased by two-thirds (66%) in the UK. The decrease is similar decrease in boys (68%) and girls (63%).
  • Over the last decade, cancer mortality rates in children have decreased by almost a fifth (18%) in the UK, however this includes a decrease (20%) for boys and stable rates for girls.
  • In Europe, around 3,300 children were estimated to have died from cancer in 2012.
  • Worldwide, around 80,000 children were estimated to have died from cancer in 2012.

See more in-depth children's cancers mortality statistics

  • 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.
  • Throughout Europe, children's cancer survival is highest in Northern Europe, lowest in the Eastern region and survival for the British Isles is roughly in the middle.

See more in-depth children's cancers survival statistics

  • A person’s risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to 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.

See more in-depth children's cancers risk factors

The latest available statistics for children's cancer in the UK are; incidence of all cancers combined 2012-2014, 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.

Meta-analyses and systematic reviews are cited where available, as they provide the best overview of all available research and most take study quality into account. Individual case-control and cohort studies are reported where such aggregated data are lacking.

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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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the many organisations across the UK which collect, analyse, and share the data which we use, and to the patients and public who consent for their data to be used. Find out more about the sources which are essential for our statistics.

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