Childhood cancer incidence rates are on the rise in Australia and cancer remains one of the leading causes of death in those aged 14 and under.
The latest data from the Australian Childhood Cancer Registry, managed by Cancer Council Queensland, found that cancer rates increased by 11 per cent from 2006 to 2014 in those aged 0 to 14 years.
Australia continues to have one of the highest rates of childhood cancer in the world.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the findings reinforced the need for ongoing research in this area to help combat the disease.
“Around 750 children aged 0-14 are now diagnosed with cancer each year in Australia and around 100 children die from the disease,” Ms McMillan said.
“Although more children are being diagnosed with cancer and it remains one of the leading causes of death in this age group – survival rates are significantly improving.
“Around 84 per cent of children will survive at least five years after a cancer diagnosis, up from 72 per cent in the early 1990’s.
“This improvement in survival is in part due to increased funding for clinical trials, which have resulted in better treatments for children who have been diagnosed.
“However, the burden of childhood cancer is a major concern and extends to the long-term adverse health effects experienced by a large proportion of childhood cancer survivors, either because of the cancer itself or as a result of the treatment.
“Ongoing health effects can have a severe impact on a child for many years, often hindering physical development, increasing social issues, and the chance of developing cancer later in life.
“Further research into childhood cancer is pivotal to help us better understand the reason for the increasing incidence rates, and in turn help reduce the number of children living with the disease.”
Ms McMillan said almost half of all children diagnosed with cancer were aged between 0-4 years.
Increasing incidence rates were observed across most types of childhood cancers.
“Leukaemias are the most common type of cancer diagnosed among Australian children, accounting for around one third of all cases (33 per cent), followed by tumours of the central nervous system (25 per cent) and lymphomas (10 per cent),” Ms McMillan said.
“While we have made great gains in childhood cancers over the past 30 years, we still have a long way to go to reduce the burden of this disease on our younger generation.”
Cancer Council Queensland independently funds and manages the Australian Childhood Cancer Registry – one of only a few national databanks for childhood cancer in the world.
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