The growing prevalence of childhood cancer survivors in Australia

What is known?

The incidence (number of new cases) of childhood cancer has been measured in Australia for several decades. We know that while incidence is increasing, a child diagnosed with cancer today is much more likely to survive long-term than those diagnosed in previous decades.

We also know that children who survive cancer go on to have very specific needs throughout their lives. Following intensive treatment, many survivors can experience effects on their health and well-being later in life. To help support survivors, it is important to monitor the number of people living after a cancer diagnosis during childhood (known as the prevalence of childhood cancer survivors).

What is new?

Although information on childhood cancer incidence in Australia is commonly reported, less is known about prevalence. In this study we looked at the prevalence of childhood cancer survivors over a long-term (36-year) time period, and also examined how many survivors are living within five-years after a childhood cancer diagnosis now compared to previous decades.

Our findings revealed that there are currently about 17,500 Australians who have survived a childhood cancer diagnosis between 1983 and 2018. Since 1988, there has been an 80% increase in the number of people alive within five years of a childhood cancer diagnosis.

What does this mean?

Current trends in childhood cancer incidence and survival suggest that the prevalence of both short and long-term childhood cancer survivors in Australia is likely to continue to increase. Monitoring the prevalence of childhood cancer survivors is important because it allows for better planning to meet the healthcare and other needs of Australians living after a childhood cancer diagnosis.

Contact: Danny Youlden

Reference: Youlden DR, Steliarova-Foucher E, Gini A, Silva NDP, Aitken JF. The growing prevalence of childhood cancer survivors in Australia. Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2023; e30383. doi: 10.1002/pbc.30383.

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