More kids surviving cancer – but tragedy still strikes

Childhood cancer survival has increased in Australia by six per cent 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 per cent in 1992-2001 to 82 per cent during 2002-2011.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said donations and funding were urgently needed for more research to beat the disease.

“Around 640 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer every year in Australia,” Ms Clift said.

“Almost half of all cases are diagnosed in children under four years of age.

“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 per cent 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,” Ms Clift said.

“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 – highlighting the urgent need for greater research and support services for families affected.

“Our hope is that with continued community support for all types of cancer research, we can find new ways of beating the disease.”

Cancer Council Queensland independently funds and manages the Australian Paediatric Cancer Registry – one of only a few national clinical registers of childhood cancer in the world.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 or

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171

*Summary of Childhood Cancer (Ages 0-14) in Australia.