Spatial temporal patterns in childhood leukaemia: further evidence for an infectious origin. EUROCLUS project

Br J Cancer. 1998 Mar;77(5):812-7. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1998.132.


The EUROCLUS project included information on residence at diagnosis for 13351 cases of childhood leukaemia diagnosed in the period 1980-89 in defined geographical regions in 17 countries. A formal algorithm permits identification of small census areas as containing case excesses. The present analysis examines spatial-temporal patterns of the cases (n = 970) within these clustered areas. The objectives were, first, to compare these results with those from an analysis conducted for UK data for the period 1966-83, and, second, to extend them to consider infant leukaemias. A modification of the Knox test investigates, within the small areas, temporal overlap between cases in a subgroup of interest at a putative critical time and all other cases at any time between birth and diagnosis. Critical times were specified in advance as follows: for cases of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia aged 2-4 years, the 18-month period preceding diagnosis; for cases of total leukaemia aged 5-14 years, 1 year before to 1 year after birth; and for infant cases (diagnosed < 1 year), 1 year before to 6 months after birth. Each of the analyses found evidence of excess space-time overlap compared with that expected; these were 10% (P = 0.005), 15% (P= 0.0002) and 26% (P= 0.03) respectively. The results are interpreted in terms of an infectious origin of childhood leukaemia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infections / complications*
  • Leukemia / epidemiology
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / epidemiology*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / etiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Risk
  • Time Factors