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Original Research Articles

Patterns and Trends of Childhood Malignancy in Sri Lanka


G. L. S. de Silva ,

Provincial Department of Health, Services (Western Province), LK
About G. L. S.
Regional Epidemiologist (Colombo)
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Rohini De Alwis Seneviratne

Faculty of Medicine, Colombo, LK
About Rohini De Alwis
Senior Lecturer, Department of Community Medicine
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Objective: To determine the pattern and trends in morbidity and mortality from childhood malignancy in Sri Lanka


Methodology: Data on morbidity from 3633 malignancies in children 0-15 years of age for the period 1982 -1994 were collected from the three cancer hospitals in Sri Lanka The death register maintained at the Office of the Registrar General was utilized to obtain information on deaths from malignancy in the same age group from 1980 to 1990. Age standardization of rates was achieved by using the mid-year population of children in the age group for the year 1988.


Results: An increase in incidence of childhood malignancy from 2.6 in 1982 to 6.2 in 1994 from all causes was observed. Leukaemia (42%) was the commonest malignancy of which 82. 7% of cases were acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, followed by· lymphomas (12.6%) and malignant tumours of CNS (9.7%). The highest rate of increase was observed for CNS malignancies. Of 40.4% solid tumours, 27.2% were localized to the site at diagnosis while 47.2% had spread by direct extension and 10% to distant sites.


4.2% of all deaths during the study period were from childhood malignancies and of these 52%were of lymphatic and heamopoietic origin. Leukaemias accounted for 82% of deaths.


Conclusion: Childhood malignancy shows an increase in the rate of admission during the period. The pattern is that of a developing country undergoing a change towards that of a developed country.
How to Cite: de Silva, G.L.S. and Seneviratne, R.D.A., 1997. Patterns and Trends of Childhood Malignancy in Sri Lanka. Journal of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka, 2(1), pp.22–30. DOI:
Published on 31 Dec 1997.
Peer Reviewed


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