Statistics for children's cancers

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How Common is Children’s Cancer?

In 2022, it is estimated that 776 children aged 0–14 years will be newly diagnosed with cancer in Australia (405 boys and 371 girls).1

The number of new diagnoses is estimated to be higher in the 0–4 year old age group (332 children) than in 5–9 year olds (207 children) and 10–14 year olds (237 children).1

Number of children diagnosed with cancer in Australia, 2022 (estimate)

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1

In 2022, it is estimated that:1

  • among 0–4 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 22 for boys and 22 for girls;
  • among 5–9 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 13 for boys and 13 for girls;
  • among 10–14 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 15 for boys and 14 for girls.

In 2018, there were 731 children aged 0–14 diagnosed with cancer in Australia (397 boys and 335 girls). In 2018, the age-specific incidence rate for children aged 0–14 newly diagnosed with cancer was 16 cases per 100,000 children (17 for boys and 15 for girls). In 2022, it is estimated that the age-specific incidence rate will be 16 cases per 100,000 children (17 for boys and 16 for girls). 

In 2018, the most common types of cancer diagnosed in children aged 0–14 were leukaemia (238 children), brain cancer (96 children) and lymphoma (62 children).1

The number of new cases of children aged 0–14 diagnosed with cancer increased from 520 (292 boys and 228 girls) in 1982 to 731 in 2018. Over the same period, the age-specific incidence rate for children aged 0–14 newly diagnosed with cancer remained similar from 14 cases per 100,000 children (15 for boys and 13 for girls) in 1982 to 16 cases per 100,000 children in 2018.

 

Age-specific incidence rate of children's cancer, 1982 to 2018

Note: Figure shows annual age-specific rates for children – boys and girls combined.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1 

Mortality from Children’s Cancer

It is estimated that in 2022, 88 children aged 0–14 years will die from cancer in Australia (53 boys and 35 girls).1

Number of deaths from children's cancer in Australia, 2022 (estimate)

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1

In 2022 it is estimated that:1

  • among 0–4 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of deaths from cancer will be 2.4 for boys and 1.6 for girls;
  • among 5–9 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of deaths from cancer will be 2.3 for boys and 1.3 for girls;
  • among 10–14 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of deaths from cancer will be 1.8 for boys and 1.6 for girls.

In 2020, there were 85 cancer deaths of children aged 0–14 in Australia (48 boys and 37 girls). In 2020, the age-specific mortality rate for children aged 0–14 with cancer was 1.8 cases per 100,000 children (2.0 for boys and 1.6 for girls). In 2022, it is estimated that the age-specific mortality rate will be 1.8 cases per 100,000 children (2.2 for boys and 1.5 for girls). 

In 2020, the leading causes of cancer death in children aged 0–14 were brain cancer (33 children) and leukaemia (16 children).1

The number of cancer deaths of children aged 0–14 decreased from 181 (108 boys and 73 girls) in 1982 to 85 in 2020. Over the same period, the age-specific mortality rate for children aged 0–14 with cancer decreased from 4.8 cases per 100,000 children (5.6 for boys and 4.0 for girls) in 1982 to 1.8 cases per 100,000 children in 2018.

Age-specific mortality rate of children's cancer,1982 to 2020

Note: Figure shows annual crude rates for children (boys and girls)

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1

Survival from Children’s Cancer

In 2014–2018, five-year relative survival for boys and girls in the age groups 0–4 years, 5–9 years, and 10–14 years were in the range 83-87%.1

Five-year relative survival for all childhood cancers combined improved from 73% for the period 1983–1994 to 86% for 2007–2016.2 

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare2

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

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1

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.2

Data from 2007–2016 indicate that the relative survival of children with cancer by the end of first year after diagnosis was 94.1%, which decreased to 88.3% after 3 years and 86.1% after 5 years.2  

Five years after diagnosis, most children with cancer have a similar survival rate to children who have not had cancer.3 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%.3


References

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2022. Cancer data in Australia. Canberra: Accessed: July 2022; https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia/contents/about

[2] Australian Childhood Cancer Registry, Cancer Council Queensland. Australian Childhood Cancer       Statistics Online (1983-2017). CCQ: Brisbane, Australia; 2021

[3] 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 Epidemiology 2015;39(3):394-400.