Number of children dying from cancer is decreasing

The incidence of childhood cancer is on the rise, which likely reflects improvements in diagnosis

Number of children dying from cancer is decreasing

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The number of children dying from cancer in Ireland is falling, according to a new report.

The figures from the National Cancer Registry (NCRI) show that fewer than 25 children under the age of 15 have died from the illness each year since the 1990s.

That compares with 50-60 deaths per year from the 1950s to 70s.

Despite the declining mortality rate, however, the incidence of childhood cancer is on the rise.

The report shows that average annual numbers rose from 117 diagnoses per year during the 1994-2000 period to 163 per year during 2008-2014 - which the NCRI says partly reflects increases in the childhood population.

Incidence rates for boys & girls combined 'increased significantly' by an average of 1.1% per year between 1994 and 2014.

"Although a real trend in underlying risk of childhood cancer cannot be ruled out, it is likely that a substantial proportion of the increase in incidence rates reflects improvements in diagnosis," the report notes.

Professor Kerry Clough-Gorr, Director of the NCRI, explained: "While incidence appears to be increasing, the consensus internationally is that this may, to a large extent, reflect improvements in diagnosis.

"Treatment improvements have led to marked reductions in mortality from childhood cancer, but further work is needed to follow-up the growing numbers of survivors of childhood cancer, who may experience long-term health consequences related to their cancer treatment.”

She added: "Obviously the decrease in mortality and the increase in survival are both related to better treatements for children."

Image: National Cancer Registry