Important information

A child (0-14 years old) with a suspected cancer should be referred to a paediatric oncologist who is a member of a relevant multidisciplinary team.

All specialists listed on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.


What is paediatric cancer?

Paediatric or childhood cancer is any cancer diagnosed in children 0-14 years old. These cancers are different from cancers that affect adults. They are also rarer than adult cancers. Children's cancers often start in different parts of the body compared with adult cancers. They look different under a microscope and can react to treatment differently. For this reason they are often treated differently.

The most common cancer in children is leukaemia. Other types of children's cancers include lymphoma, cancer of the bone (osteosarcoma), Ewing's sarcoma and brain tumours.

Graphic of a child's body


What tests are needed?

Tests used to diagnose paediatric cancer vary depending on the suspected cancer type. For example, if lymphoma or leukaemia is suspected, the tests would include blood tests or a biopsy of the bone marrow.


What treatment options are there?

Treatment for paediatric cancer is specialised and complex and should be undertaken at a specialist paediatric facility. There are three paediatric hospitals in NSW:

For children who need to travel for treatment, the local health district will have an arrangement in place to ensure that they can get the treatment they need. It may be possible to have some treatment, such as chemotherapy, closer to home. This should be discussed with the treating oncologist.


How common is paediatric cancer in NSW?

Paediatric cancer was diagnosed in:

  • 2011
    207 children in NSW
  • 2012
    237 children in NSW
  • 2013
    247 children in NSW

Data Source: Annual NSW cancer incidence and mortality dataset, 2013 (sourced from the NSW Cancer Registry)