Statistics for children's cancers

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How Common is Children’s Cancer?

In 2021, it is estimated that 851 children aged 0–14 years will be newly diagnosed with cancer in Australia (449 boys and 402 girls).1

The number of new diagnoses is estimated to be higher in the 0–4 year old age group (373 children) than in 5–9 year olds (228 children) and 10–14 year olds (250 children).1

Number of children diagnosed with cancer in Australia, 2021 (estimate)

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1

In 2021, it is estimated that:1

  • among 0–4 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 24 for boys and 21 for girls;
  • among 5–9 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 14 for boys and 14 for girls;
  • among 10–14 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 16 for boys and 15 for girls.
Age-specific incidence rate of children's cancer, 1982 to 2017

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

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1

In 2017, 712 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 (243 children), brain cancer (97 children) and lymphoma (53 children).1 

Mortality from Children’s Cancer

It is estimated that in 2021, 93 children aged 0–14 years will die from cancer in Australia (54 boys and 39 girls).1

Number of deaths from children's cancer in Australia, 2021 (estimate)

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1

In 2021 it is estimated that:1

  • among 0–4 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of deaths from cancer will be 2.2 for boys and 1.6 for girls;
  • among 5–9 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of deaths from cancer will be 2.5 for boys and 1.2 for girls;
  • among 10–14 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of deaths from cancer will be 1.7 for boys and 2.0 for girls.

Age-specific mortality rate of children's cancer,1982 to 2019

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

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1

In 2019, 89 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 (33 children) followed by leukaemia (20 children).1

Survival from Children’s Cancer

In 2013–2017, 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 84-86%.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 (AIHW). Cancer Data in Australia web report. Accessed August 2021; https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia/data

[2] Australian Childhood Cancer Registry, Cancer Council Queensland 2021. Australian Childhood Cancer Statistics Online (1983-2017). CCQ: Brisbane, Australia. Accessed August 2021; https://cancerqld.org.au/research/cancer-registries/australian-childhood-cancer-registry/

[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.