Statistics for children's cancers

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How Common is Children’s Cancer?

In 2020, it is estimated that 870 children aged 0-14 years will be newly diagnosed with cancer in Australia (459 boys and 411 girls).1

The number of new diagnoses is estimated to be higher in the 0–4 year age group (381 children) than in 5–9 year olds (230 children) and 10–14 year olds (259 children).1

Number of children diagnosed with cancer in Australia, 2020 (estimate)

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1

In 2020, it is estimated that:1

  • among 0–4 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 25 for boys and 22 for girls;
  • among 5–9 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of children newly diagnosed with cancer will be 15 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 17 for girls.

Age-specific incidence rate of children's cancer, 1982 to 2016

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

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1

In 2016, 742 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 (228 children), brain cancer (101 children), lymphoma (78 children), and kidney cancer (49 children).1

Mortality from Children’s Cancer

It is estimated that in 2020, 96 children aged 0-14 years will die from cancer in Australia (53 boys and 43 girls).1

Number of deaths from children's cancer in Australia, 2020 (estimate)

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1

In 2020 it is estimated that:1

  • among 0–4 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of deaths from cancer will be 2.3 for boys and 1.5 for girls;
  • among 5–9 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of deaths from cancer will be 1.9 for boys and 2.0 for girls;
  • among 10–14 year olds, the rate per 100,000 of deaths from cancer will be 2.2 for boys and 1.9 for girls.

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

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

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1

In 2018, 86 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 (35 children) followed by leukaemia (19 children).1

Survival from Children’s Cancer

In 2012-2016, 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 85-87%.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

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.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


References

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Cancer Data in Australia web report. Accessed June 2020; https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia/data
[2] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2018. Cancer in adolescents and young adults in Australia. Cat. no. CAN 110. Canberra: AIHW.
[3] Cancer Council Queensland. Australian Childhood Cancer Registry. Accessed June 2020; https://cancerqld.org.au/research/cancer-registries/australian-childhood-cancer-registry/
[4] 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.