DOI: 10.1002/ijc.34918 ISSN: 0020-7136

Incidence, survival, and mortality of cancer in children and young adolescents in Belgium and the Netherlands in 2004–2015: A comparative population‐based study

Hanne Peirelinck, Maya Schulpen, Raoull Hoogendijk, An Van Damme, Rob Pieters, Kris Henau, Nancy Van Damme, Henrike E. Karim‐Kos
  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


International comparisons of cancer surveillance measures may provide insight into inequalities in registration practices, etiological factors, and treatment strategies. This study aimed to compare incidence, survival, and mortality of cancer in children and young adolescents between Belgium and the Netherlands. All children (0–14 years) and young adolescents (15–17 years) diagnosed with cancer between 2004 and 2015 were selected from the population‐based cancer registries of Belgium (N = 4739) and the Netherlands (N = 7322). Differences in incidence and mortality were expressed as standardized rate ratios (SRR; BE/NL). Five‐year observed survival was calculated using the Kaplan–Meier method. During 2004–2015, the overall cancer incidence among children and young adolescents was similar in both countries. Incidence of neuroblastoma was significantly higher in Belgian children (2010–2015: SRR = 1.3, 95% CI 1.0–1.6). Five‐year survival of all malignant cancers was comparable in 2010–2015, exceeding 80% in both age groups. Remarkable differences in survival existed in children for malignant central nervous system (CNS) tumors in 2004–2009 (BE = 62%, NL = 45%), for acute myeloid leukemia (BE = 68%, NL = 78%) and rhabdomyosarcomas (BE = 60%, NL = 79%) in 2010–2015, and for neuroblastoma in both periods (2004–2009: BE = 76%, NL = 64%; 2010–2015: BE = 82%, NL = 64%). Overall cancer mortality in children decreased by approximately 3 percent‐points annually in both countries, but was slightly lower in Belgium in 2004–2009 (SRR = 0.9, 95% CI 0.7–1.0). Despite differences for specific cancer types, overall cancer incidence, survival, and mortality were comparable between Dutch and Belgian children and young adolescents in 2010–2015. Variability in screening, diagnosis, and registration practices probably explains the observed differences in incidence and survival of neuroblastoma and malignant CNS tumors.

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