Childhood cancer mortality in Australia

Danny Youlden, Peter Baade, Patricia Valery, L WARD, A Green, Joanne Aitken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To determine current rates of childhood cancer mortality at a national level for Australia and to evaluate recent trends.

Methods: Using population-based data from the Australian Paediatric Cancer Registry, we calculated cancer-related mortality counts and rates for the 3-year period 2006-2008 and trends between 1998 and 2008 by sex, age group, and cause of death (defined according to the International Classification of Childhood Cancers, third edition). Rates were directly age-standardised to the 2000 World Standard Population, and linear regression was used to determine the magnitude and significance of trends. The standardised mortality ratio for non-cancer deaths among children with cancer was also estimated.

Results: A total of 282 children (23 per million per year) died from cancer in Australia between 2006 and 2008. Large decreases were observed in cancer mortality rates over the study period, particularly for boys (-5.5% per year; p< 0.001), children aged 10-14 years old (-5.5% per year; p= 0.001), and leukaemia patients (-9.4% per year; p< 0.001). However, there was no significant change in mortality due to tumours of the central nervous system. Children with cancer were twice as likely to die from non-cancer causes compared to other children (SMR = 2.06; p= 0.001).

While ongoing improvements in childhood cancer mortality in Australia are generally encouraging, of concern is the lack of a corresponding decrease in mortality among children with certain types of tumours of the central nervous system during the past decade. The results also highlight the need for intensive monitoring of childhood cancer patients for other serious diseases that may subsequently arise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-480
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Epidemiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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