Background: Cancer in children though less frequent as compared to cancer in older people, evidence accumulated across the World indicates an increasing risk during the last decades. In Iraq in general and in the south of the country in particular, claims and counter claims are propagated every now and then on the childhood cancer and the proposition that environmental factors are playing a role in the increased risk (if any) is controversial.
Methods: In this study data were compiled on new cancer cases diagnosed in all health care institutions in Basrah among children aged less than 15 years over an eight-year period (2004-2011). Cases were obtained mainly from the population of Basrah governorate but many cases were also visiting from neighbouring governorates. The latter were excluded from the present analysis.
Results: The average annual incidence rate of all childhood cancers was 11.23 per 100000 children. Three groups of cancers occupied the top list. These are leukaemias accounting for 31.1% or 3.56 per 100000 children, lymphomas accounting for 19.6% or 2.20 per 100000 children and brain tumours accounting for 9.7% or 1.09 per 100000 children. A modest rise in the incidence rate was observed over the years 2004-2011.
Conclusions: The evidence for increasing risk with time is not strong. Cancer of children, however, is a significant health problem and requires intensive health care to deal with. Multidisciplinary team research work is essential and comprehensive team approach to care is mandatory.