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Around 10,000 children in the UK living with cancer

20% more boys have cancer than girls, figures reveal

Adrian O'Dowd

Friday, 13 December 2013

Almost 10,000 children in the UK are currently living with a cancer diagnosis, according to new figures from Macmillan Cancer Support and the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN).

The charity said this was the first time that actual numbers had been calculated for children aged 0-14 with cancer in the UK and said more help was needed including better awareness amongst GPs of their care needs.

Statistics were worked out using information collected by cancer registries and the National Cancer Data Repository from 1991-2010 in England, Scotland and Wales and 1993-2010 for Northern Ireland.

The research revealed that there were around 1,000 under-14s diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK, many of whom survived for five years or more and there are currently 9,936 children with a cancer diagnosis.

Around 20% more boys get cancer than girls – 5,428 boys and 4,508 girls.

Almost half (47%) of all under-14s living with a cancer diagnosis were diagnosed at least five-years ago.

The most commonly diagnosed cancer in children is leukaemia accounting for almost a third of new cases a year.

Childhood cancer survivor rates have been improving over the past 40 years, but many such children were likely to have a higher risk of other health conditions, said Macmillan, including problems with growth and development, heart and lung conditions, and for some, an increased risk of developing second cancers.

Child cancer survivors also experienced increased anxiety post-treatment and 18% of 200 parents surveyed last year said their child lost confidence or was anxious about returning to school because of their cancer.

Ciarán Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “This research shows us for the first time how many children are living with cancer in the UK. While many children will go on to survive their diagnosis, we know the impact of cancer does not stop when treatment ends.

“More must be done to support the thousands of children living with cancer in the UK. Far too often they end up lost in the healthcare system and are not receiving appropriate and timely follow-up care. Adult specialists and GPs need to know how to manage the side-effects and lifestyle changes that can affect those treated as children.”

Dr Michael Peake, clinical lead for the NCIN, said: “To my knowledge this is the first time such data have been available in the world and it certainly quantifies the burden children with cancer and their families have to bear. It will also help support the NHS to plan how it should deliver the optimum level of expert care for these children as they grow up.”

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