Children's cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of children's cancer each year, 2016-2018 average, UK

Deaths

Deaths from cancer in children, 2015-2017, UK

 

Survival

 Survive children's cancers for 5 or more years, 2012-16, UK

Not well understood

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

  • There are around 1,800 new cancer cases in children cancer cases in the UK every year, that's around 5 every day (2016-2018).
  • Cancer in children accounts for less than 1% of all new cancer cases in the UK (2016-2018).
  • In girls in the UK, there are around 840 new cancer cases every year (2016-2018).
  • In boys in the UK, there are around 990 new cancer cases every year (2016-2018).
  • Among children in the UK, cancer incidence rates are highest in under-fives (2016-2018).
  • Since the early 1990s, incidence rates for cancers in young people have have increased by around a quarter (24%) in the UK. Rates in females have increased by more than a third (35%), and rates in males have increased by a seventh (14%) (2016-2018).
  • Over the last decade, incidence rates for cancers in young people have remained stable in the UK. Rates in females have increased by around a seventh (13%), and rates in males have remained stable (2016-2018).
  • Leukaemias, brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours, and lymphomas together account for around two-thirds of all cancers diagnosed in UK children (1997-2016).
  • Leukaemias are the most commonly diagnosed cancers in children.

See more in-depth children's cancers incidence statistics

  • There are around 240 cancer deaths in children in the UK every year, that's more than 4 every week (2016-2018).
  • Cancer in children accounts for less than 1% of all cancer deaths in the UK (2016-2018).
  • In girls in the UK, there are around 110 cancer deaths every year (2016-2018).
  • In boys in the UK, there are around 140 cancer deaths every year (2016-2018).
  • Brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours are the most common cause of cancer death in children.
  • Since the early 1970s, mortality rates for cancers in children have decreased by around seven-tenths (69%) in the UK. Rates in girls have decreased by more than two-thirds (68%), and rates in boys have decreased by seven-tenths (70%).
  • Over the last decade, mortality rates for cancers in children have decreased by around a fifth (21%) in the UK. Rates in girls have remained stable, and rates in boys have decreased by more than a fifth (22%).
  • Cancer accounts for 22% of all deaths in children in the UK (2019)

See more in-depth children's cancers mortality statistics

  • Around 7 in 10 (72%) people diagnosed with cancer in childhood in the UK survive for twenty years or more (1997-2001).
  • Around 8 in 10 (80%) people diagnosed with cancer in childhood in the UK survive for ten years or more (2007-2011).
  • More than 8 in 10 (84%) people diagnosed with cancer in childhood in the UK survive for five years or more (2012-2016).
  • Survival for children's cancers has more than doubled since the 1970s in the UK.
  • In the 1970s, more than a third of children diagnosed with cancer in the UK survived beyond ten years, now it's around 8 in 10.
  • Children's cancers survival in the UK and Ireland is similar to the European average.

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.
  • Around 1 in every 420 boys and around 1 in every 490 girls in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer by age 14, it is estimated.

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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.