Childhood cancer deaths have halved since the late 1980s thanks to world-leading studies and research in the UK
- The death rate has fallen thanks to world-leading research and studies in the UK
- New data shows there are now 21 cancer deaths per million children
- Around 17,000 childhood cancer deaths have been avoided since the 1970s
The number of children dying of cancer in the UK has almost halved in the last 33 years.
Since the late 1980s, the mortality rate has been falling thanks to world-leading research and studies in the UK.
Between 1987 and 1989, 39 out of a million children died of cancer before the age of 14.
But Cancer Research UK (CRUK) data shows that figure has fallen to 21 cancer deaths per million children.
Between 1987 and 1989, 39 out of a million children died of cancer before the age of 14
Figures show that 253 children died of cancer between 2017 and 2019 – but if the death rate hadn’t fallen from its peak in the 1970s, that number would have been closer to 800, a separate analysis shows.
This means that around 17,000 childhood cancer deaths have been avoided since the 1970s.
Some of the best improvements have come in the treatment of childhood leukemia, with a 60 percent drop in deaths over three decades.
The number of people dying from brain and spine tumors has also fallen by about a third.
Experts say the progress is partly due to the UK running some of the most successful clinical trials in the world.
Scientists in the UK were instrumental in finding the most effective combination of chemotherapy drugs to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which means more than nine out of ten survive today.
Experts say the progress is partly due to the UK running some of the most successful clinical trials in the world
Now, hundreds more with acute lymphoblastic leukemia can expect to live thanks to a CRUK study nearly 15 years ago.
dr Laura Danielson, Head of Research for Children and Adolescents at CRUK, welcomed the news but added: ‘More work needs to be done to develop more effective treatments with fewer side effects, particularly for some cancers, such as bone cancer, where progress is lagging.’
The release of the data coincides with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, during which CRUK encourages people to donate to vital research. CRUK chief Michelle Mitchell said: “We are seeing more children surviving their cancer and growing up to be extraordinary adults.”
The young patient is now a trainee nurse
Katie Currie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which affects the white blood cells, when she was just three years old.
After months of treatment, it seemed to go away, but two years later she relapsed.
The 19-year-old, from East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, has been enrolled in a CRUK-funded trial of mitoxantrone, a new treatment. The results were so amazing that all participants were put on the drug as soon as possible.
Katie, who is studying pediatric nursing, said: “So I really want to thank you for the help I’ve had.”
Professor Vaskar Saha, who led the study, said: ‘If I had had cancer as a child I would not be alive today. It’s very different now.”