Background: Studies from various countries have found an increasing incidence of childhood leukemia in recent decades. To characterize time trends in the age- and sex-specific incidence of childhood acute leukemia during the last 20 years in the Nordic countries, we analyzed a large set of population-based data from the Nordic Society of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology (NOPHO) in their acute leukemia database covering a population of approximately 5 million children aged 0-14 years.
Methods: Temporal trends in acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia incidence rates overall and for acute lymphoblastic leukemia immunophenotypes and for specific age groups were analyzed by Poisson regression adjusting for age, sex, and country. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results: We identified 1595 girls and 1859 boys diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia between January 1, 1982, and December 31, 2001, and 260 girls and 224 boys diagnosed with de novo acute myeloid leukemia between January 1, 1985, and December 31, 2001. No statistically significant change was seen in the overall incidence rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia during the 20-year study (annual change = 0.22%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = -0.36% to 0.80%). The incidence rate of B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia remained unchanged (annual change = 0.30%, 95% CI = -0.57% to 1.18%) from January 1, 1986, through December 31, 2001. A somewhat lower incidence in the first years of the study period indicated an early increasing incidence of B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia that corresponded to a simultaneous decreasing incidence of unclassified acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Incidences of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (annual change = 1.55%, 95% CI = -1.14% to 4.31%) and acute myeloid leukemia (annual change = 0.58%, 95% CI = -1.24% to 2.44%) were stable during the study period.
Conclusion: Incidences of acute myeloid leukemia overall, acute lymphoblastic leukemia overall, and specific acute lymphoblastic leukemia immunophenotypes have been stable in the Nordic countries over the past two decades.