Over 1,200 children diagnosed with cancer in a decade

26 February 2019, 12:27

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More than 1,200 children were diagnosed with some form of cancer over a 10 year period in Scotland, statistics have revealed.

From 2007 to 2016, 1,275 people aged 14 or under were recorded as having the disease and slightly more of those, 53%, were boys.

For children diagnosed between 2007 and 2011, the one-year survival rate stood at 92%, rising to over 93% by 2012 to 2016, and five-year survival figures were around 84%.

Generally, however, there was found to be "no change" in mortality from cancer for children or young people over time and and the figures pointed to an increase in the likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer.

The official figures were released on Tuesday in a new annual publication by ISD Scotland.

They reveal that the numbers of new cancers in children have risen for most years from 2010 onwards.

Nevertheless, cancers in children represented less than 1% of all the cancers diagnosed in the most recent year of the study, 2016.

Almost a third (31%) of the cancers in those aged 14 or under were leukaemias and other blood cell cancers, while just over a quarter (27%) were cancers of the brain and nervous system.

The number, and risk, of childhood cancers was about twice as great among children under five as those aged five to 14.

In the 10-year period studied, 191 children died of cancer in Scotland - 79 girls and 112 boys.

Statisticians found "no consistent trend" in survival figures over the decade.

The report also stated: "The numbers of new cancers in children have risen for most years from 2010 onwards.

"The world age-adjusted rate - or risk - of cancer increased by a similar amount. This suggests an increase in the likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer rather than a change in the size of the population at risk."

The report also looked at cancer rates among young people, defined as those aged 15 to 24.

Some 2,032 youngsters were diagnosed with cancer in 2007-2016, with 52% of those being female.

The most common diagnoses were carcinomas, representing 21% of all cancers in this age group, lymphomas (18%), and melanomas and skin cancers (16%).

Carcinomas (tumours that arise in the skin or the lining that covers the body's organs) in teenage girls and young women were found to have risen throughout the period studied, reaching a peak in 2015.

Looking at the 15-24 age group, the report said: "Females had over three times the rate of carcinomas compared with males; and over 70% higher rates of melanomas and skins cancers.

"Carcinomas in females aged 20-24 were notably high at 140.5 per million person-years. Rates of carcinomas rose continuously in females from age 18 upwards."

One-year survival rates across the age group stood at 94%, rising to 96% in the more recent five year period studied.

The average number of cancer deaths in young people was 25 per year and there was "no clear trend" detected over time.