New data reveals childhood cancer burden in Australia

While childhood cancer incidence rates are on the rise in Australia, mortality rates have decreased by 38 per cent over the last two decades, new Cancer Council Queensland figures show.

The latest data* from the Australian Childhood Cancer Registry, which is independently managed and funded by Cancer Council Queensland, has been released for International Childhood Cancer Day (February 15).

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the findings reinforced the need for ongoing research in this area to help reduce the burden of this disease on our youngest generation.

“The incidence rate of childhood cancer rose by 34 per cent in the 33 years between 1983 and 2015,” Ms McMillan said.

“Around 770 children aged 0-14 are now diagnosed with cancer each year in Australia and around 100 children die from the disease.

“Leukaemias are the most common type of cancer diagnosed among Australian children, accounting for around one third of all cases.”

Ms McMillan said while cancer remains the leading causes of disease-related death in children over the age of one year, the data shows survival rates are significantly improving.

“Five-year relative survival for childhood cancer has continued to improve over the last three decades in Australia, with large improvements observed for children with several types of cancer,” Ms McMillan said.

“However, there is still work to be done, with little or no improvement in survival for child with some types of brain cancers or liver cancer.

“Awareness and further funding are sorely needed in order to secure a future in which suffering is significantly reduced for all types of childhood cancer.”

International Childhood Cancer Day is an opportunity to raise awareness and promote a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by children and adolescents with cancer and their families.

Ms McMillan encouraged all Queensland families affected by cancer to reach out for support.

“The impact of childhood cancer goes far beyond the numbers. It’s a tragic moment when a family is given the news their child has cancer, and the burden goes beyond the physical – it can affect finances, emotional stability, mental health and many social aspects of life,” Ms McMillan said.

“Cancer Council Queensland is committed to reducing the effects of a childhood cancer diagnosis on family, friends and the local community. It’s why we independently fund and manage the Australian Childhood Cancer Registry – one of the few national registers of childhood cancer in the world.

“Cancer registries are vital for monitoring the success of cancer treatment, early detection and prevention strategies.

“Our information and support phone line, 13 11 20, is available for family and friends with questions relating to childhood cancer – from treatment and managing emotions, to outlining ways to discuss cancer with children and young people.

“We also have a no cost counselling service for adults who may be caring for a child with cancer, as well as resources relevant to the emotional experience of cancer.

“We welcome all Queenslanders to call us for confidential support, advice or simply a listening ear from our qualified health professionals.”

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


* Youlden DR, Aitken JF. Childhood cancer in Australia, 1983-2015. Cancer Council Queensland:  Brisbane, Australia; 2019:

About the Australian Childhood Cancer Registry

The Australian Childhood Cancer Registry (ACCR) is a population registry of all children aged under 15 years diagnosed with cancer in Australia. Its purpose is to produce and publish information and statistics about childhood cancer in Australia and thereby to facilitate research to improve outcomes of childhood cancer. The ACCR operates in collaboration with the Australasian Association of Cancer Registries, all Australian state and territory population cancer registries, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and all paediatric oncology treating hospitals in Australia.

For more information, please contact:

Lisa Maynard, Public Relations and Social Media Manager, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5171 or 0488 015 702