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Introduction: Yearly more than 160,000 childhood cancer cases are diagnosed worldwide and around 90,000 die because of this disease.  In Colombia, this represents  the 2nd leading cause of childhood deaths for those more than one year old.

Objective: To describe the occurrence and survival patterns of childhood cancer patients over the last 20 years in Cali.

Methods:Information was obtained from the Cancer Population Registry in Cali and the Municipal Department of Health.  The International Classification for childhood Cancer (ICCC) was used. Vital status data was obtained from MDH death certificates and hospital databases. Additionally, clinical records were reviewed and, in some cases, telephone contact was made to gather data. Follow-up was completed until December 31, 2011. Incident (IR) and mortality rates (MR) were estimated and adjusted for age. Life-tables were made to estimate overall survival. Results:  Between  1977-2011 there were 2,311 cases of cancer identified in children less than 15 years of age. The IR and MR for Cali were found to be 141.2 and 55.6 per million of people per year. Leukemias, lymphomas, Central nervous system (CNS) tumors and soft tissue sarcomas showed IR´s of 60.1, 20.5, 25.7 and 9.4, respectively. 5-years OS was 48%, and showed an improvement from 24.9%±4.3 to 51.8%±4.6, compared 1992-96 vs 2002-06 periods.

Conclusion: The IR found is comparable with those from affluent countries. Taking into account that pediatric cancer is curable in about 75-80% of the cases,  an enormous challenge is presented to the Colombian health system: to improve current clinical results.

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Received 2012-11-23
Accepted 2013-09-12
Published 2013-09-30

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