"The marked disparity between incidence and mortality trends crystallises the problem posed by childhood leukaemia from a public health standpoint: we have become steadily better at treating it at least in the sense of preventing children dying from it but we have made little or no progress in preventing it. Rational approaches to prevention are difficult to formulate when so little is known about the cause," Professor Michel Coleman will tell experts at the first international scientific conference on the causes of childhood leukaemia.
The conference Childhood leukaemia: incidence, causal mechanisms and prevention has been organised by CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA, Britain's leading charity devoted to the conquest of the disease in children.
Professor Coleman, who is Professor of Epidemiology and Vital Statistics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that between 480 and 500 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with leukaemia in Britain each year and about 100 die from it. It accounts for about a third of all cancers in children.
The number of new cases diagnosed annually has been rising for at least 40 years, particularly in children under the age of five, he said. Importantly, by analysing the reliable mortality trends available between 1911 and the 1950s, together with directly measured incidence and survival data available since the 1960s, it was apparent that the rise in incidence had actually been going on much longer than that.
"Suggestions that part of the increase has been due to more children surviving infancy to reach the peak age of leukaemia incidence (1-4 years) and to improved registration and diagnosis of the disease, may b
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Children With Leukaemia