This section provides a summary of the incidence, mortality and survival data for children with cancer in Australia.
In this section, data are presented on children aged 0-14 years who are diagnosed with cancer in Australia.
Data on childhood cancer stage at diagnosis and survival by stage at diagnosis can be accessed at Cancer Australia’s National Cancer Control Indicators website.
More data on childhood cancers are also available at the Cancer Council Queensland’s Australian Childhood Cancer Statistics Online website.
How common is children’s cancer?
In 2019, it is estimated that 804 children aged 0-14 years will be newly diagnosed with cancer in Australia (439 boys and 365 girls).1
The number of new diagnoses is estimated to be higher in the 0–4 year age group (377 children) than in 5–9 year olds (200 children) and 10–14 year olds (227 children).1
Number of children diagnosed with cancer in Australia, 2019 (estimate)
In 2019, it is estimated that:1
- among 0–4 year olds, the crude rate of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 23.4 for boys and 21.6 for girls;
- among 5–9 year olds, the crude rate of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 14.3 for boys and 10.0 for girls;
- among 10–14 year olds, the crude rate of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 14.7 for boys and 14.3 for girls.
Crude incidence rate of children's cancer by age group 1982-2015
Note: Figure shows annual crude rates for children boys and girls combined.
In 2015, 705 children aged up to and including 14 years in Australia were diagnosed with cancer. Of these, the most common types of cancer diagnosed were leukaemia (233 children), brain cancer (85 children), lymphoma (72 children), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (43 children) and soft tissue sarcoma (43 children).1
Mortality from children’s cancer
It is estimated that in 2019, 101 children aged 0-14 years will die from cancer in Australia (56 boys and 45 girls).1
Number of deaths from children's cancer in Australia, 2019 (estimate)
In 2019 it is estimated that:1
- among 0–4 year olds, the crude rate of death from cancer will be 2.3 for boys and 1.8 for girls;
- among 5–9 year olds, the crude rate of death from cancer will be 2.7 for every 100,000 boys and 2.2 for every 100,000 girls.
- among 10–14 year olds, the crude rate of death from cancer will be 1.8 for boys and 1.7 for girls.
Crude mortality rate of children's cancer by age group 1982 – 2016
Note: Figure shows annual crude rates for children (boys and girls)
- In 2016, 95 children aged up to and including 14 years died from cancer in Australia. Of these, the leading causes of death from cancer in children were brain cancer (41 children)followed by leukaemia (24 children).1
Survival from children’s cancer
In 2010-2014, five-year survival relative for all cancer combined was 84.1% children.2
Five-year relative survival for all childhood cancers combined improved from 69.3% for the period 1985-1989 to 84.1% for 2010-2014.2
5-year relative survival from cancer (0-14 years)
Large improvements in survival have been found for the diagnostic groups of leukaemias, lymphomas, tumours of the central nervous system, neuroblastoma, germ cell tumours and malignant bone tumours. There has been little or no improvement in survival for several other types of childhood cancer over recent years, particularly hepatic tumours.3
Data from 2010-2014 indicate that the relative survival of children with cancer by the end of first year after diagnosis was 93.7%, which decreased to 87.0% after 3 years and 84.1% after 5 years.2
Five years after diagnosis, most children with cancer have a similar survival rate to children who have not had cancer.4 Recent data shows that for children in Australia who have survived for 5 years after a cancer diagnosis, the chance of surviving for a further 5 years is 97%.4
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Cancer Data in Australia. Accessed February 2019; https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia/data
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2018. Cancer in adolescents and young adults in Australia. Cat. no. CAN 110. Canberra: AIHW.
- Cancer Council Queensland. Australian Childhood Cancer Registry. Accessed February 2019; https://cancerqld.org.au/research/cancer-registries/australian-childhood-cancer-registry/
- Youlden DR, Baade PD, Hallahan AR, Valery PC, Green AC, Aitken JF. Conditional survival estimates for childhood cancer in Australia, 2002–2011: a population-based study. Cancer Epidemiol. 2015;39(3):394-400.