Reviewed Sep 2016
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 a rare disease. Children and adolescents with cancer are different from adults with cancer. The cancers differ in pathology, appearance, rate of growth and response to treatment. The complications of treatment can be more extensive in children due to the effects on growth and development. Although the treatment is often complex, there is a high cure rate and more effective and less toxic therapies are in constant development.
The physical and emotional needs of the child and adolescent with cancer as well as the specific treatment of the cancer are best met by a team approach directed by a children’s cancer specialist (pediatric oncologist). For these reasons, 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, and works in close collaboration with BC Cancer. The POHN facilitates shared care between BC’s Children’s Hospital and the patient’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.
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. 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).
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”.