Childhood cancer mortality rates on the decline

AUSTRALIAN childhood cancer death rates have dropped significantly over a decade, new Cancer Council Queensland research shows.

The CCQ study*, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, examined Australian childhood cancer mortality trends between 1998 and 2008.

The study found significant decreases in childhood cancer death rates in the 11-year period surveyed, with the largest drops among males, children aged 10-14 years old, and those diagnosed with leukaemia.

Male childhood cancer deaths dropped by an average of 5.5 per cent per year over the decade - with the death rate 43 per cent lower in 2008 than in 1998.

For both males and females aged 10-14 years, childhood cancer death rates also decreased by 43 per cent over the decade - an average of 5.5 per cent per year.

Significant declines in cancer deaths were also observed for children in the 5-9 age bracket (a cumulative decrease of 27 per cent from 1998 to 2008).

Childhood leukaemia deaths dropped by 63 per cent between 1998 and 2008 - a sharp decline of around 9.4 per cent per year.

Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman Katie Clift said survival rates for childhood cancer had been improving consistently for decades.

"One of the key reasons for improved survival rates in childhood cancer patients is improved treatment, resulting from national and international clinical trials," Ms Clift said.

"While the drop in Australian childhood cancer deaths is encouraging - there is still more to be done.

"Cancer Council Queensland will continue to monitor childhood cancer mortality rates, tracking trends and investing in further research to ensure the effectiveness of early detection and treatment.

"Ultimately, we want to see improved quality of life and the best possible outcomes for children with cancer and their families."

Around 140 Queensland children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer each year, and about 25 die from the disease.

Despite improved survival rates, cancer is the most common cause of disease-related death among children 1-14 years old in Australia*.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at

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