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Health SA Gesondheid (Online)

On-line version ISSN 2071-9736
Print version ISSN 1025-9848


OTOO, Marianne N.; LUBBE, Martie S.; STEYN, Hanlie  and  BURGER, Johanita R.. Childhood cancers in a section of the South African private health sector: Analysis of medicines claims data. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2020, vol.25, pp.1-8. ISSN 2071-9736.

BACKGROUND: Although childhood cancers are rare, increases in incidence have been observed in recent times. There is a paucity of data on the current incidence of childhood cancers in South Africa.AIM: This study described the epidemiology of childhood cancers in a section of the private health sector of South Africa, using medicines claims data.SETTING: This study was designed on a nationally representative medicine claims database.METHOD: A longitudinal open-cohort study employing children younger than 19 years and diagnosed with cancers between 2008 and 2017 was conducted using medicine claims data from a South African Pharmaceutical Benefit Management company. Cases were identified using International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) diagnostic codes C00 to C97, together with a medicine claim reimbursed from oncology benefits. Crude incidence rates were calculated per million persons younger than 19 years on the database and standardised using the Segi 1960 world population. Temporal trends in incidence rates, analysed using the joinpoint regression, were reported as annual percentage changes (APCs).RESULTS: Overall, 173 new cases of childhood cancers were identified in the database, translating into an age-standardised incidence rate (ASR) of 82.3 per million. Annual incidence of cancer decreased from 76.7 per million in 2008 to 58.2 per million in 2017. More incident cases were identified in males (68.8%). The highest proportion of incident cases was recorded for leukaemias (39.9%), the 5-9 year age group (34.1%) and the Gauteng Province (49.7%).CONCLUSION: The incidence of childhood cancers decreased over time in the section of the private health sector studied. Leukaemias were the major drivers of childhood cancer incidence.

Keywords : epidemiology; childhood cancer; adolescent; incidence; incidence trends; private health sector; South Africa.

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