Patterns of Childhood Cancer Incidence in Saudi Arabia (1999-2008)


Background: Although childhood cancer is a rare disease, 100,000 children younger than 15 years of agedie from cancer each year, the majority of them in developing countries. More data need to be gathered andpublished particularly in developing countries to better understand the scale of the problem. Aims: This studyaimed to describe the patterns of childhood cancers in Saudi Arabia over a period of ten years (1999-2008).Materials and
Methods: This descriptive retrospective study was based on secondary data from the Saudi CancerRegistry from 1999 to 2008. All Saudi cases (both genders), under the age of 15 years, who were diagnosed withcancer during the study period, were included in this study.
Results: Childhood cancer in Saudi Arabia, in theperiod between 1999 and 2008, accounted for about 8% of total cancer cases. The most common encounteredcancers were leukemia (34.1%), followed by lymphoma (15.2%), brain (12.4%), and kidney cancers (5.3%).The overall incidence of childhood cancers increased from 8.8 per 100,000 in 1999 to 9.8 per 100,000 in 2008.The incidence rates of cancers per 100,000 in the years 1999 and 2008 were generally higher among males, (9.4and 11.5 in males vs. 8.3 and 8.1 in females). The highest incidence rate in the surveyed years was apparent inthe birth to age 4 years group.
Conclusions: Cancer is an important public health problem in Saudi Arabia anda major ascending contributor to mortality and morbidity in children. More studies are required to describethe patterns of childhood cancers and related risk factors in Saudi Arabia.