Incidence and survival for childhood central nervous system tumours in Australia, 1983-2016

What is known?

Central Nervous System (CNS) tumours occur in the brain and spine.

They account for an estimated 21% of childhood cancers diagnosed worldwide and represent the most common cause of childhood cancer-related deaths in high-income countries.

What is new?

This is the first national study to describe the distribution and long-term trends of CNS tumours diagnosed in Australian children (ages 0-14).

Between 1983 and 2016, the overall incidence of all childhood CNS tumours increased by 29%. The largest increases were for low grade and non-malignant tumours.

Overall, 72% of children with a CNS tumour survived at least 5-years after diagnosis; however, survival estimates were strongly associated with characteristics such as the type of tumour and tumour grade.

There were significant improvements in survival for children with ependymoma and medulloblastoma over time, although this was not the case for those with astrocytoma or high-grade gliomas.

What does this mean?

The overall increase of CNS tumours in Australian children over the past three decades is likely to be attributed to advances in diagnostic technologies, with similar trends also reported in other high-income countries.

Improvements in treatment have resulted in better survival for children with some types of CNS tumours since the early 1980s. Further research is needed into new therapies to improve outcomes for children diagnosed with tumour types that remain associated with poorer survival.

Contact:Danny Youlden

Reference: Youlden DR, Henshaw C, Gottardo NG, Hassall T, Aitken JF. Incidence and survival for childhood central nervous system tumours in Australia, 1983-2016. Journal of Neuro-Oncology. 2021. doi: 10.1007/s11060-021-03869-6.

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