Despite improvement in survival rates over the decades, cancer remains the second commonest cause of death in Australian children. Of the 600 children diagnosed each year with cancer, almost 150 will die from their disease.
Current survival rates vary greatly according to the type of child cancer diagnosed. Overall, survival rates are 70-80% across all types. Some childhood cancers have a very high cure rate, such as 99% for retinoblastoma (eye cancer), and 80% for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (a cancer of the blood cells). Other cancers have a much lower survival rate, such as acute myeloid leukaemia (50-60%), and brain stem gliomas (20%).
In Australia today, 1 in 900 young adults between 16 and 45 years is a survivor of childhood cancer.