Incidence, clinical distribution, and patient characteristics of childhood cancer in Saudi Arabia: A population-based analysis

Document Type



Haematology/Oncology; Radiation Oncology


Purpose: Information regarding the incidence and patterns of childhood malignancies is disproportionately overrepresented by high-income countries, representing mainly the Caucasian population. There is a need to evaluate and disseminate information for other ethnicities, particularly from the Middle East.
Methods: Data from the National Cancer Registry, Saudi Arabia (SA-NCR), for pediatric patients (age 0-14 years) diagnosed between 2005 and 2009 and for similar patients at our institution during the same period were analyzed. Population numbers reported in the 2007 national census were used to calculate the annual incidence of childhood cancer.
Results: Data from SA-NCR on 3885 patients were included in this analysis. The median age was 5.58 years, and 57.3% were males. The annual age-specific cancer incidence rate (ASR) for children in SA is 99.83 per million population; ASR per million for lymphoid leukemia is 25.75, 12.05 for brain tumors, and 9.82 for Hodgkin lymphoma. Of all childhood cancers in SA, 35% were treated at our institution. The five-year overall survival for these 1350 patients is 74.6% (median follow-up 7.52 years [95% confidence interval: 7.36-7.68]). Significant differences in the distribution of childhood malignancy subtypes were evident compared with other countries.
Conclusion: We have reported differences in the cancer ASR and cancer subtype distribution for children in SA as compared with the worldwide incidence and with other populations. This paper provides a comprehensive epidemiological overview of childhood cancer in SA, which could be extrapolated to other regional Arab populations.


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Pediatric Blood and Cancer