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Keywords:

  • adolescents;
  • cancer;
  • childhood;
  • epidemiology;
  • incidence;
  • Taiwan

BACKGROUND

Currently, little information is available on childhood cancer incidence rates in Eastern Asia. The objective of this study was to report the first population-based cancer surveillance of children and adolescents in Taiwan.

METHODS

Data from the Taiwan Cancer Registry were examined for cancer frequencies and incidence rates among individuals ages birth to 19 years from 1995 to 2009. Types of cancers were grouped according to the International Classification of Childhood Cancer. Rates were compared by sex and age. For further comparisons with other countries, rates were age standardized to the 2000 world standard population in 5-year age groups. Trends in incidence rates also were evaluated.

RESULTS

In total, 12,315 individuals were diagnosed with childhood cancers, for an age-standardized incidence rate (ASR) of 132.1 per million person-years from 1995 to 2009. The male-to-female incidence rate ratio was 1.19. Overall, leukemias were the most common cancer (ASR, 39.1 per million person-years), followed by central nervous system neoplasms (15.8 per million person-years), and lymphomas (15.3 per million person-years). During the 15-year study period, the incidence rates increased by 1% annually. Compared with other countries, the rate of hepatic tumors was 2 times greater in Taiwan. The rate of germ cell neoplasms in Taiwan was similar to that in the United States and was 1.3 to 1.9 times greater compared with Canada, Brazil, Israel, and Japan.

CONCLUSIONS

Based on the current data, the observed increase in overall incidence rates was attributable only marginally to improvements in case ascertainment and diagnostic procedures. The high rates of malignant hepatic tumors and germ cell neoplasms in Taiwan suggest variations in the background risk factors. Cancer 2014;120:3545–3553. © 2014 The Authors. Cancer published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of American Cancer Society.