Children's cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of children's cancers, 2014-2016 average, UK

Deaths

Deaths from cancer in children, 2014-2016, UK

Survival

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

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 1,900 new cancer cases in children in the UK every year, that's around 5 every day (2014-2016).
  • Cancer in children accounts for less than 1% of all new cancer cases in the UK (2014-2016).
  • In girls in the UK, there are around 850 new cancer cases in the UK every year (2014-2016).
  • In boys in the UK, there are around 1,000 new cancer cases in the UK every year (2014-2016).
  • Since the early 1990s, incidence rates for cancers in children have increased by around a seventh (15%) in the UK. Rates in girls have increased by a sixth (17%), and rates in boys have increased by around a seventh (13%).
  • Over the last decade, incidence rates for cancers in children have increased by almost a tenth (8%) in the UK. Rates in girls have increased by around a tenth (9%), and rates in boys have remained stable.
  • 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.

See more in-depth children's cancers incidence statistics

  • There are around 230 cancer deaths in children in the UK every year, that's more than 4 every week (2014-2016).
  • Cancer in children accounts for less than 1% of all cancer deaths in the UK (2014-2016).
  • In boys in the UK, there are around 130 cancer deaths in the UK every year (2014-2016).
  • In girls in the UK, there are around 100 cancer deaths in the UK every year (2014-2016).
  • Brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours are the most common cause of children's cancer death.
  • Since the early 1970s, mortality rates for cancers in children have decreased by seven-tenths (70%) in the UK. Rates in boys have decreased by seven-tenths (70%), and rates in girls have decreased by seven-tenths (70%).
  • Over the last decade, mortality rates for cancers in children have decreased by more than a quarter (27%) in the UK. Rates in boys have decreased by around a quarter (26%), and rates in girls have decreased by almost a third (29%).

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.

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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.