Statistics

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This section provides a summary of the incidence, mortality and survival data for children with cancer in Australia.

Childhood cancer, also known as paediatric cancer, is defined as cancers that occur between birth and 15 years of age.1

The statistics reported below are for all cancers combined and has been sourced from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for children aged 0-14 years.

How common is children’s cancer?

In 2016, it is estimated that 650 children aged 0-14 years will be newly diagnosed with cancer in Australia (365 boys and 285 girls).2

The number of new diagnoses is estimated to be higher in the 0–4 year age group (315 children) than in 5–9 year olds (160 children) and 10–14 year olds (175 children).2

Number of children diagnosed with cancer in Australia, 2016 (estimate)

Bar chart showing estimated number of new cases of children’s cancer in 2015 in Australia, including separate bars for boys and girls. New cases are higher in the 0–4 year age group (315 children) than in 5–9 year olds (160 children) and 10–14 year olds (175 children)

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare2

Over the last 30 years, the incidence rate of cancer in children aged 0-14 years increased by about 11%.3

In 2016, it is estimated that:2

  • among 0–4 year olds, the average number of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 22.7 boys for every 100,000 boys, and 19.5 girls for every 100,000 girls

  • among 5–9 year olds, the average number of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 12.4 boys for every 100,000 boys, and 9.2 girls for every 100,000 girls

  • among 10–14 year olds, the average number of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 13.1 boys for every 100,000 boys, and 11.7 girls for every 100,000 girls.

Incidence rate of children's cancer by age group

Line graph showing incidence rates of children’s cancer in Australia since 1982. Incidence rates in 0–4 year olds and 10–14 year olds have increased slightly, but the rate for 5–9 year olds has changed little; see text for 2015 estimates

Note: Figure shows annual age-specific incidence rates for boys and girls.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare3 and linear projections of 2000-2011 trends.

In 2012, 667 children aged under 15 years in Australia were diagnosed with cancer. Of these, the most common types of cancer diagnosed were acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (187 children), brain cancer (91 children), kidney cancer (44 children), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (40 children) and other soft tissue cancers (36 children).3

Mortality from children’s cancer

It was estimated that in 2014, 85 children aged 0-14 years died from cancer in Australia (40 boys and 45 girls).4

Number of deaths from children's cancer in Australia, 2014 (estimate)

Bar chart showing estimated number of deaths from children’s cancer in Australia in 2014, including separate bars for boys and girls. Number of deaths are highest in the 5–9 year age group (35 deaths), followed by 0–4 year olds (30 deaths) and 10–14 year olds (20 deaths)

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare4

Over the last 30 years, the cancer death rate in children aged 0-14 years decreased by about 60%. This reduction reflects the substantial increase in survival from cancer in children.  A substantial reduction in mortality has occurred since the year 2000 (about 30% in 0-14 year olds), despite no reduction in the incidence rate during the same time.3

  • In 2016 it is estimated that :5

    • among 0–4 year olds, an average of 1.8 boys will die from cancer for every 100,000 boys,the same is estimated for girls.

    • among 5–9 year olds, an average 2.0 boys will die from cancer for every 100,000 boys, the same is estimated for girls.

    • among 10–14 year olds, an average of 1.3 boys will die from cancer for every 100,000 boys, the same is estimated for girls.

Mortality rate of children's cancer by age group

Line graph showing decreasing trends in mortality rates from children’s cancer in Australia since 1968 by age group; see text for 2014 estimates

Note: Figure shows annual age-specific mortality rates for boys and girls.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare4 and linear projections of 2000-2011 trends.

  • In 2013, 98 children aged under 15 years died from cancer in Australia.3 Of these, the leading cause of death from cancer in children aged 0-14 years was brain cancer (41 children).3

  • In 2009 to 2011, cancer caused 19% of deaths in children aged 1-14 years.6

 

Survival from children’s cancer

The most up-to-date data on survival from 2007 to 2011 indicate that the chance of children with cancer in Australia surviving 5 years from diagnosis is 83% of the survival seen in children who don’t have cancer. This 5-year relative survival of 83% applies for both boys and girls.4

5 - year survival rate for children with cancer in Australia

The 5-year relative survival rate for children with cancer in Australia is 83%

Note: Survival rate based on data for 5-year relative survival between 2007 and 2011.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare4

The 2007-2011 survival rate of 83% represents an improvement from the period 1983 to 1989, when the 5-year relative survival for children with cancer aged 0-14 years was 68%.7

5-year relative survival from cancer (0-14 years)

Bar chart showing the 5-year relative survival rate for 0-14 year old children with cancer in Australia has increased from 68% in 1983-1989 to 81% in 2004-2010

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare8

Although 5-year survival rates in children aged 0-14 years  have increased for cancers overall, this is not the case for all individual cancer types. For some types of cancer, such as brain cancer, the survival rates have changed very little over this time.7,8

Data from 1995-2004 indicate that the relative survival of children with cancer in Australia at 5 years from diagnosis was 80% for that period, with this survival reducing only marginally to 77% at 10 years.9

Five years after diagnosis, most children with cancer have a similar survival rate to children who have not had cancer.9, 10 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%.10

References

  1. National Cancer Institute (NCI). NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. Accessed 19 August 2016.

  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012. Cancer incidence projections: Australia, 2011 to 2020. Cancer Series no. 66. Cat. No. CAN 62. Canberra: AIHW.

  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality (ACIM) books. Canberra: AIHW. Accessed 19 August 2016.

  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014. Cancer in Australia: an overview 2014. Cancer series no 90. Cat. no. CAN 88. Canberra: AIHW.

  5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Cancer mortality trends and projections: 2014 to 2025. Accessed 19 August 2016.

  6. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014. Australia’s health 2014. Australia’s health series no. 14. Cat. no. AUS 178. Canberra: AIHW.

  7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012. A picture of Australia’s children 2012. Cat. no. PHE 167. Canberra: AIHW.

  8. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011. Cancer in adolescents and young adults in Australia. Cancer series no 62. Cat. no. CAN 59. Canberra: AIHW.

  9. Aitkin J: Epidemiology of childhood cancer in Australia and trends over the last 20 years. Brisbane: Cancer Council Queensland, ND.

  10. 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.

published: Sunday, 23 August, 2015