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Br J Cancer. 2011 Oct 25;105(9):1402-8. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.341. Epub 2011 Sep 20.

Survival from childhood cancer in northern England, 1968-2005.

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  • 1Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Sir James Spence Institute, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP, England, UK.



Cancer is the second most common cause of death in children in the developed world. The study investigated patterns and trends in survival from childhood cancer in patients from northern England diagnosed 1968-2005.


Five-year survival was analysed using Kaplan-Meier estimation for four successive time periods. Cox regression analysis was used to explore associations with age and demographic factors.


The study included 2958 cases (1659 males and 1299 females). Five-year survival for all cancers improved significantly from 39% in 1968-1977 to 79% in 1998-2005 (P<0.001). Five-year survival for leukaemia increased from 24% to 81% (P<0.001), lymphoma from 46% to 87% (P<0.001), central nervous system tumours from 43% to 73% (P<0.001), bone tumours from 21% to 75% (P<0.001), soft tissue sarcoma from 30% to 58% (P<0.001) and germ cell tumours from 59% to 97% (P<0.001). Survival was worse for cases of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (P<0.001) and astrocytoma (P<0.001) aged 10-14 years compared with 0-4-year olds.


There were marked improvements in survival over a 38-year time span. Future work should examine factors that could influence further improvement in survival such as diagnosis delays.

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