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First–ever atlas of childhood cancer examines patterns of incidence, survival and health care use

March 11, 2015 Toronto

The first-ever Atlas of Childhood Cancer in Ontario is an in-depth, unique, population-based account of cancer in childhood over a 20-year period. Produced by Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) in collaboration with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), the POGO Atlas provides reassuring evidence that Ontario’s children are receiving the best possible care where and when they need it.

The POGO Atlas is the first undertaking by any organization to provide a comprehensive overview of the patterns and trends of childhood cancer. It primarily examines patterns of incidence, survival and health care utilization of all children with cancer in Ontario from January 1985 to December 2004. The Atlas demonstrates that the overall incidence of cancer in children is not rising in Ontario, and there are no pockets of increased incidence anywhere in the province. The chapter on survival shows a progressive overall increase in survival rates across all childhood cancers, made possible with intensive and resource intense therapy. When health service utilization is examined during active treatment, it is increased many hundred fold when compared with the general childhood population, and remains more than ten times greater even after completion of treatment.

“As survival rates have increased, we all strive to make a child’s journey through the cancer process easier, and to see their quality of life improve,” says Dr. Mark Greenberg, senior adviser, Policy & Clinical Programs at POGO and one of the Atlas authors. “Ontario’s single payer health care system is producing excellent results, and these successes will be sustained if resources and new research are matched to the patterns and trends highlighted in the POGO Atlas.”

The goal of the POGO Atlas is to stimulate discussion, debate, policy consideration and relevant  research from epidemiologists, clinicians, policy-makers, administrators and economists – all in the interests of improving the understanding of childhood cancer and the policy and healthcare system in which it is managed.  

“ICES has been a partner in improving the care of Ontario children by turning data into evidence that provides a comprehensive view of childhood cancer, and we could not be happier about that,” said Dr. Michael Schull, president and CEO ICES.  

Quick Facts

  • In Ontario and across Canada, cancer in children aged 0 – 14 is rare, representing 1 per cent of all cancers.  
  • Childhood cancer has a double impact, causing the largest number of disease-related deaths in children while simultaneously resulting in one of the largest numbers of years of life saved by cancer treatment across all age groups (adults included).
  • POGONIS (POGO’s database) captures demographic, diagnostic, treatment and outcome information on all children treated in Ontario’s five children’s hospitals starting in 1985.
  • POGO’s 45(1) status under the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) allows it to link POGONIS to a variety of administrative and registry databases.

Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) is the official source of advice on childhood cancer to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and the long-standing core of a collaboration of Ontario’s childhood cancer programs at five children’s hospitals. POGO champions childhood cancer care through collaborations in population data, policy development, healthcare innovation, survivor care, family assistance, research and education. This work has resulted in a highly integrated childhood cancer system that delivers equitable care, accessible to families living across Ontario. The organization is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and committed donors. For news and information about POGO’s many initiatives, visit www.pogo.ca.

Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues. Its unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.

For the latest ICES news, follow ICES on Twitter: @ICESOntario

For more information, please contact:

  • Jacqui DeBique
  • Communications & Knowledge Transfer Manager, POGO
  • jdebique@pogo.ca B: 416-592-1232 ext. 266

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