Childhood cancer survival and avoided deaths in Australia, 1983 to 2016

What is already known?

Despite improvements in survival over previous decades, cancer remains the leading cause of disease-related death among children aged 1 to 14 in Australia.

Survival following a diagnosis of cancer during childhood depends on several factors which include: the patient’s age, the type of cancer, how far the cancer has spread at diagnosis, and access to high quality care.

What is new?

After adjusting for key factors, the risk of death within five years of diagnosis for all cancers combined has almost halved since the early 1980s.

A few exceptions remain – there has been little or no improvement in survival for some childhood solid tumours such as liver cancer, and certain types of brain and bone tumours.

Using baseline information from 1983-1994, it was estimated that 1,537 of 3,970 expected deaths (39%) were potentially avoided for Australian children diagnosed with cancer between 1995-2016.

What does this research mean?

Over the last 35 years, there is clear evidence of ongoing progress in survival for many childhood cancers in Australia.

The intention of this study is to continue to spur efforts towards ensuring that all children diagnosed with cancer can look to the future with hope.

Using different measures of survival, such as the number of potentially avoided deaths, may assist with understanding outcome data produced by cancer registries.

Contact: Danny Youlden

Reference: Youlden DR, Baade PD, Moore AS, Pole JD, Valery PC, Aitken JF. Childhood cancer survival and avoided deaths in Australia, 1983 to 2016. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. 2022. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12895.

Read more