Title

Estimated incidence, prevalence, mortality, and registration of childhood cancer (ages 0-14 years) in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region: An analysis of GLOBOCAN 2020 data

Document Type

Article

Department

Radiation Oncology; Paediatrics and Child Health; Haematology/Oncology

Abstract

Background: There is little evidence about childhood cancer burden in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region (EMR). We aimed to provide an estimate of childhood cancer burden in the EMR, examine the connection between age-standardised mortality rate and level of income (gross domestic product [GDP] per capita), and reflect on the current status of childhood cancer registration in the EMR.
Methods: Using the GLOBOCAN 2020 data from the Cancer Surveillance Unit of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, we extracted data for childhood cancer (at ages 0-14 years) incidence, prevalence, and mortality for 22 countries in the EMR, the EMR as a whole, and other WHO regions, and categorised by main cancer types. Childhood cancers were classified according to the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases. We also searched MEDLINE, Google Scholar, and the grey literature between May 17 and Aug 2, 2021, for English-language articles and reports about the status of childhood cancer registration in the EMR. We further examined the connection between age-standardised mortality rate and GDP per capita for the 22 countries in the EMR.
Findings: The total estimated number of incident childhood cancer cases in the EMR was 23 847 in 2020, with an age-standardised incidence rate of 10·1 per 100 000 children at risk, ranging from 7·3 per 100 000 children at risk in Pakistan to 13·8 per 100 000 children at risk in Iran. The estimated number of incident cases was 7451 (age-standardised incidence rate 3·10 per 100 000 children at risk) for leukaemia, 3006 (1·30 per 100 000 children at risk) for brain and CNS tumours, 2222 (0·92 per 100 000 children at risk) for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 1569 (0·67 per 100 000 children at risk) for kidney cancers, and 1420 (0·58 per 100 000 children at risk) for Hodgkin lymphoma. In 2020, the number of total estimated childhood cancer deaths in the EMR was 10 535, with an age-standardised mortality rate of 4·4 (per 100 000 children at risk, ranging from 0·8 per 100 000 children at risk in Qatar to 7·2 per 100 000 children at risk in Somalia. A negative correlation was found between countries' GDP per capita (income level) and mortality rates (r=-0·77, p<0·0001). The scarcity of data and quality of cancer registries in EMR countries prevented further analysis.
Interpretation: Given the variable quality and coverage of cancer registries in EMR countries, these findings are likely to be underestimates. Nevertheless, these data, especially the high mortality rates, reflect a need for effective national childhood cancer plans in line with the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer to improve survival.
Funding: Friends of Cancer Patients.

Publication

The Lancet. Child & adolescent health

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