The general trend of increasing 5-year survival has continued for all children (aged 0 to 14 years) diagnosed with cancer in the 20 years from 1990 to 2009
This pattern of increasing 5-year survival is evident in each of the age groups 0 to 4 years, 5 to 9 years and 10 to 14 years
Interpretation of survival estimates should be focused on overall trends up to 2009, rather than estimates for any particular year. This is because the number of children diagnosed each year is relatively small and the survival estimates for single calendar years are therefore less stable
This bulletin presents estimates of 5-year overall survival (Background note 1) for all cancers combined. Data are presented on survival for all children (0 to 14 years) diagnosed with cancer (Background note 2) in England during the 20-year period from 1990 to 2009 and followed up to 31 December 2014. Survival estimates are reported by age group and for all ages combined, both unstandardised and age-standardised (Background note 3).
Confidence intervals are included in the reference tables and can be used to give an indication of the variability in the survival estimates. Further information on the methods used to estimate 5-year survival can be found in the background notes.
These statistics are designated as Experimental Statistics. Experimental Statistics are those which are in the testing phase, are not yet fully developed and have not been submitted for assessment to the UK Statistics Authority. Experimental Statistics are published in order to involve customers and stakeholders in their development and as a means of building in quality at an early stage. A user consultation will be opened in the future. Further information on Experimental Statistics can be found on our website.Back to table of contents
This publication is produced in partnership with the Cancer Research UK Cancer Survival Group, at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The cancer registration data in this publication have been collected by the National Cancer Registration Service in Public Health England.
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For children (aged 0 to 14) diagnosed with cancer in 2009, age-standardised 5-year survival was 80.9%. The most common cancers diagnosed in childhood are leukaemias and malignant neoplasm of brain.
Survival for children diagnosed with cancer improved throughout the period 1990 to 2009 (Figure 1). From 1990 to 1995, 5-year survival was below 75%; for children diagnosed since 2004, 5-year survival has consistently been above 78%. The trend of increasing 5-year survival is evident in each of the age groups 0 to 4 years, 5 to 9 years and 10 to 14 years.
The increase in survival for children with cancer is likely to be due to improvements in treatment and supportive care. The increases in survival for many of the principal types of childhood cancer have occurred in parallel with clinical trials in the same period of time. Trends in population-based survival for a wide range of childhood cancers in Britain increased significantly between 1978 and 2005 for every diagnostic category1.
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In Figure 1 the year-to-year variation in 5-year survival has been removed by smoothing (Background note 5). The unsmoothed data presented in Figure 2 provides an understanding of the wide fluctuations in 5-year survival that were removed from Figure 1. Fluctuations in the time series occur due to sparse data. There are small numbers of cancer diagnoses and deaths each year among children in England. Therefore, interpretation of these data should be focused on overall trends up to 2009, rather than the survival estimates for any particular year.
For instance, there is an increasing trend in 5-year survival during the period 1990 to 2009 (Figure 2). Yet, when looking at the 2009 estimate compared with the 2008 estimate, survival appears to have declined. However, we cannot be certain that there has been a genuine change in the trend in 5-year survival until more recent data are available. Care should be taken when interpreting this decline, because it is almost certainly due to fluctuation in the time series rather than a genuine decline in cancer survival.
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This is our third bulletin on childhood cancer survival in England. These statistics were prompted by the introduction of a cancer survival indicator for children in the NHS Outcomes Framework 2013–20142. The NHS Outcomes Framework was established to monitor overall changes in performance of the NHS and the quality of health outcomes.
Users of cancer survival estimates also include government organisations, policy-makers, cancer charities, academics and researchers, cancer registries, the general public and the media. Population-based cancer survival statistics are used to:
plan services aimed at cancer prevention and treatment
provide reliable and accessible information about cancer outcomes to a wide range of groups, including patients and health professionals via health awareness campaigns, cancer information leaflets and web pages
feed in to national cancer plans, such as: "Achieving world-class cancer outcomes: A Strategy for England 2015 to 2020", which outlines 6 strategic priorities to help improve cancer survival in England by 20203
inform cancer research
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
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