For all information regarding pediatric oncology, please see the Oncology, Hematology & BMT pages and the Pediatric Oncology Network pages of the BC Children's Hospital.
Childhood cancer is a rare disease. Children and adolescents with cancer differ 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, the BC Cancer Agency and the Provincial Pediatric Oncology/ Hematology Network 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 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 the BC Cancer Agency. The Network facilitates shared care between BC's Children's Hospital and the patient's home community. See for the referral guidelines.
604-875-2345: ask for the oncologist on call
Every year one child in 8,000 under the age of 17 will develop cancer (annual incidence age 0-17 = 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.
|Distribution of childhood 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.