Promising outlook for childhood cancer survivors
CHILDREN affected by cancer who survive at least five years after diagnosis are likely to survive long term, according to research by the Cancer Council.
The study found that for children with cancer, the chance of surviving for a further five years increased from 82% at diagnosis to 89% one year after diagnosis, 95% after three years, and 97% after five years.
About 640 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer every year in Australia, and almost half of all cases are diagnosed in children under four years of age.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the findings were encouraging for childhood patients and their families.
"This study offers a more promising outlook for children who survive the first few years following a diagnosis of cancer," Ms Clift said.
"We hope that these results may help to allay some of the fears of recurrence and ongoing psychological distress that are commonly experienced by survivors and their families.
"The research found five-year survival rates reached 95% within five years of diagnosis for nearly all types of childhood cancer, regardless of a child's age or cancer type.
"The findings show that children who survive at least five years after a cancer diagnosis will generally experience long-term survival similar to that of children without cancer.
"While the results do not necessarily indicate cure, these survival estimates provide childhood cancer patients, parents and families with some level of reassurance and a more realistic basis to plan for the future.
"It's encouraging that more Australian children are surviving a cancer diagnosis, thanks to more effective treatments resulting from research and clinical trials."
Five-year survival for children with cancer, measured from the date of diagnosis, has increased from 76 per cent in 1992-2001 to 82 per cent during 2002-2011, matching a reduction in childhood cancer mortality rates.