Revised October 2021
All patients under the age of 17 who might have cancer are referred to BC Children’s Hospital. You can find information for new patients and their families on their website.
Childhood cancer is rare.
Children and adolescents with cancer are different from adults with cancer. Childhood cancers look different and grow diferently than adult cancers. Childhood cancers also respond to treatment differently.
Cancer treatments can affect a child's growth and development. Treatment can be complex. New, less toxic treatments are constantly being developed.
Children and adolescents with cancer should be treated by a pediatric oncologist (childhood cancer specialist).
BC Cancer and the Provincial Pediatric Oncology/Hematology Network (POHN) recommend that all patients under the age of 17 who are suspected of having, or are diagnosed with, cancer should be
referred directly to BC Children's Hospital (BCCH) for initial evaluation and therapy.
BC Children’s Hospital is the only tertiary referral centre for childhood cancer in the province. They work closely with BC Cancer. The POHN facilitates shared care between BC’s Children’s Hospital and the child’s home community. The hospital has many
family support groups available.
After hours 604-875-2161 and ask for the oncologist on call to be paged.
- There are two special reports in Canada on the Canadian statistics of childhood cancer aged 0-14 (see page 60) and cancer in adolescents and young adults aged 15-29 (see page 68).
- Every year one child in 8,000 under the age of 17 will develop cancer (the annual incidence for age 0-17 is 129 per million).
- There are about 130 new cases diagnosed in children under age 17 each year in BC.
The following table provides an overview of the most common types of childhood cancer and their incidence.
Type of Cancer|
Distribution of Cancer
Childhood cancers respond well to treatment and children with cancer have a better chance today of living a longer life than ever before. There has been a steady decline in the mortality rate for cancer of children over the last 20 years. Cure rates continue to improve by applying new knowledge gathered through basic research and its application in clinical trials. Most children referred to BCCH with cancer are placed on a clinical trial of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG).
There is also ongoing research for survivors of childhood cancer.(Childhood, Adolescent, Young Adult Cancer Survivorship Research Program) is a British Columbia population-based research program examining the long term outcomes of survivors of cancer diagnosed under age 25 in British Columbia.
Children treated for cancer are at risk for health complications later in life. These health issues are called “late effects”.