|LETTER TO THE EDITOR
|Year : 2016 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 511-512
Incidence and pattern of childhood cancers in India: Findings from population-based cancer registries
Senior resident, School of Public Health, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India
|Date of Web Publication||21-Apr-2017|
Senior resident, School of Public Health, PGIMER, Chandigarh
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Bashar A. Incidence and pattern of childhood cancers in India: Findings from population-based cancer registries. Indian J Cancer 2016;53:511-2
Cancer has become the leading cause of death worldwide with 8.2 million cancer deaths in the year 2012. Approximately, 215,000 cancers are diagnosed per year in those younger than 15 years with an estimated 80,000 cancer-related deaths in these age group annually. Although childhood cancers are relatively rare, comprising about 1% of the total cancer cases in developed countries, they are second leading cause of deaths surpassed only by accidents.
More than 80% of all childhood cancer cases are occurring in low- and middle-income countries. It is estimated that about 148,000 cancers occurred during 2008 in children aged 0–14 years in less-developed regions. Population data on incidence and pattern of childhood cancers in India come mainly from population-based cancer registries (PBCRs) being run under the National Cancer Registry Programme of the Indian Council of Medical Research. The latest report of PBCRs gives data on the incidence of childhood cancers for 2012–2014. The proportion of childhood cancers relative to cancer in all age groups varied from 0.7% to 4.4% across the 29 reporting PBCRs. However, among boys, it varied from 0.7% to 5.4% whereas among girls, it was somewhat lower at 0.5%–3.5% implying gender difference in childhood cancers. Among boys, the highest relative proportion of childhood cancers was reported by Delhi (5.4%) whereas lowest proportion was seen in Nagaland whereas among girls, highest proportion of childhood cancers was reported by PBCR Naharalgaun (3.5%) covering eight districts of Western zone of Arunachal Pradesh and lowest proportion seen in East Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya (0.5%). Delhi had 551 cases among boys (0–14 years) which was 5.4% of total reported cancers in males while it had 309 cases among girls (0–14 years) which was 3.2% of total reported cancers in females. Cancer incidence rates for childhood cancers are generally expressed per million children. Delhi reported the highest incidence rates in the country in both boys and girls at 253.3 and 152.3/million, respectively. The most common diagnostic cancer type reported in children was leukemia, both among boys and girls, with the highest incidence in Delhi at age-adjusted incidence rates (AARs) of 101.3/million in boys and 62.3/million in girls. The second most common tumor in children was lymphoma in most of the PBCRs with the highest incidence at Delhi only, both among boys and girls, at AARs of 36.3 and 15.5/million, respectively, followed by Chennai in boys (26.0) and Patiala (11.8) in girls. This in contrast to pattern seen in developed countries where the second most common cancer in childhood is brain tumors (23%) with lymphoma as a distant third (12%).
The incidence of childhood cancers is alarmingly high in some of the regions particularly in Delhi which is even higher than seen in some of the Western population. Whereas childhood cancer survival rates are about 80% in high-income countries, they may be as low as 10% in some low-income countries owing to poor diagnostic and treatment facilities and due to lack of access to care. In India, the 5 years survival for all childhood cancers combined was 37%–40% only. Early detection, prompt treatment, and regular follow-up of childhood cancers are necessary to improve its survival.
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Conflicts of interest
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