Childhood cancer survival has increased in Australia by 6% over recent decades, but one in five kids affected will still die within five years, new Cancer Council figures have revealed.
Around 95 children under the age of 15 die from cancer each year in Australia.
The latest data shows a reduction in mortality rates overall, and an increase in five-year relative survival for all childhood cancers from 76% in 1992-2001 to 82% during 2002-2011.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift says around 640 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer every year in Australia.
“Almost half of all cases are diagnosed in children under four years of age,” she says.
“Of concern, the incidence rate for children under four years old is gradually increasing, although the reasons for this are unclear.
“In contrast, there has been no significant change in incidence rates among children aged five to 14 years.
“We urgently need increased investment in all types of cancer research to improve diagnosis and treatment.”
Leukaemias were the most common cancers diagnosed among Australian children, accounting for 33% of all cases, followed by tumours of the central nervous system and lymphomas.
“Promisingly, our research shows the mortality rate for all childhood cancers is decreasing overall by an average of about four per cent per year,” Clift says.
“The most significant improvements in childhood cancer survival were among children diagnosed with leukaemia, lymphoma and neuroblastoma.
“However, we need to do more work to improve survival rates for children living in isolated parts of Australia – where disparities still persist – particularly among children diagnosed with leukaemia.
“Interestingly, children living in capital cities have higher rates of cancer compared to children outside capital cities with greater surveillance as one possible reason.
“Cancer remains the most common cause of disease-related death among children under the age of 15 in Australia.
“Our hope is that with continued community support for all types of cancer research, we can find new ways of beating the disease.”