Cancer in Children in Canada (0-14 years)
Table of Contents
List of Figures
- Figure 1 : Age-standardised incidence rates (ASIR, 1992-2007) and age-standardised mortality rates (ASMR, 1992-2006) for all cancers among children, 0-14 years, Canada.
- Figure 2 : Median Time Between Consecutive Events to Diagnosis and Initiation of Treatment by Age Group, 1995-2000, Canada
- Each year, on average 880 children
under the age of 15 are diagnosed
with cancer and 150 die from
- Although this makes cancer the second
leading cause of death by disease
among Canadian children, cancer is
still relatively rare in this age group.
- Among Canadian children, leukemia
is the most commonly occurring type
of cancer (33%), followed by brain
and nervous system cancers (20%) and
- Over the last 30 years childhood
cancer survival rates have improved
substantially, from 71% in the late
1980s to 82% in the early 2000s;
5-year survival rates have increased for
several types of childhood cancers.
Incidence and Mortality
- Incidence of childhood cancer has remained relatively stable
since 1992 but mortality has decreased over time due to
improvements in cancer treatment (Figure 1).
- Based on the latest statistics, the average age-standardised
incidence rate for childhood cancer is 153 cases per
1,000,000 children; Average age-standardised mortality rate
is 26 cases per 1,000,000 children.
- Incidence of childhood cancer is highest among infants under
the age of one (248 per 1,000,000), and lowest among
children between 10-14 years (123 per 1,000,000).
- Childhood cancer is more common among males than females
with 1.2 males being diagnosed for every female.
Figure 1: Age-standardised incidence rates (ASIR, 1992-2007) and age-standardised mortality rates (ASMR, 1992-2006) for all cancers among children, 0-14 years, Canada.
[Click to enlarge]
[Figure 1, Text Equivalent]
Source: The Canadian Cancer Registry and the Canadian Vital Statistics Death
Database, Statistics Canada.
- Little is known about what causes childhood cancer
which limits the opportunities for prevention. Some
established risk factors include exposure to ionizing
radiation, exposure to diethylstilbesterol during
pregnancy, and certain genetic conditions such as
Down's syndrome. However, these risk factors account
for only a small percentage of cases.
- Several studies are examining suspected or possible risk
factors for childhood cancers, including infections during
childhood; parental, fetal, or childhood exposures
to environmental toxins such as pesticides, solvents,
or other household chemicals; parental occupational
exposures to radiation or chemicals; maternal diet during
pregnancy; early postnatal feeding patterns and diet;
and maternal reproductive history.,
- Treatment for childhood cancer is available at
17 pediatric cancer centres across Canada.
- Between 1995 and 2000 the median time between
first contact with a health care professional and the
start of treatment was 17 days (Figure 2).
- Children are most commonly treated with intensive
multimodal therapy: a combination of chemotherapy,
radiotherapy, and surgery.
- For many types of childhood cancer, treatment based
on a clinical trial protocol gives a survival advantage.
In Canada, approximately 80% of children living with
cancer are either enrolled in a clinical trial or receiving
treatment according to a registered protocol.
Figure 2: Median Time Between Consecutive Events to Diagnosis and Initiation of Treatment by Age Group, 1995-2000, Canada
[Click to enlarge]
[Figure 2, Text Equivalent]
Note: Data presented are for consenting patients. Ontario cases were
excluded (due to differences in data collection processes) except for results
involving the time from diagnosis to initiation of treatment.
Source: The Canadian Childhood Cancer Surveillance and Control Program.
- Advances in treatment now mean that over 82% of
children will survive at least 5 years after diagnosis.
This is a significant improvement in survival compared
to the late 1980's when 71% of children survived
5 years after their initial diagnosis.
- Survival rates vary by diagnosis, with the highest
5-year rates of survival among children with
retinoblastoma (99%) and the lowest among children
with malignant bone tumours (66%).
- The biggest improvements in survival rates have
occurred among children with hepatic tumours,
leukemias, and brain and nervous system cancers. ,
- The damage from cancer treatments on growing
bodies can range from mild to serious.
- Approximately two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors
experience adverse effects related to treatment later
in life known as late effects, which may include
cardiopulmonary, endocrine, renal or hepatic
dysfunction, reproductive difficulties, neurocognitive
impairment, psychosocial difficulties and the
development of subsequent cancers.
- It is important to monitor the impacts of these adverse
effects as they have long-term effects on the quality of
life of childhood cancer survivors. ,
Formerly known as the Canadian Childhood Cancer
Surveillance and Control Program, the Cancer in Young
People in Canada Program (CYP-C) aims to fill gaps
in knowledge and ultimately reduce the burden of
childhood cancer in Canada. CYP-C is a partnership
between the Public Health Agency of Canada and the
C17 Council, a network of all the seventeen pediatric
cancer centers across the country. For more information,
please contact the manager of the CYP-C program at