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Childhood leukaemias and lymphomas in Greece (1996–2006): a nationwide registration study
  1. E T Petridou1,2,
  2. A Pourtsidis3,
  3. N Dessypris1,
  4. K Katsiardanis1,
  5. M Baka3,
  6. M Moschovi4,
  7. S Polychronopoulou5,
  8. D Koliouskas6,
  9. V Sidi6,
  10. F Athanasiadou-Piperopoulou7,
  11. M Kalmanti8,
  12. M Belechri1,
  13. C La Vecchia9,10,
  14. M P Curado11,
  15. I Skalkidis1
  1. 1
    Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, Athens University Medical School, Athens, Greece
  2. 2
    Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3
    Department of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, “Panagiotis & Aglaia Kyriakou” Children’s Hospital, Athens, Greece
  4. 4
    Hematology-Oncology Unit, First Department of Pediatrics, Athens University Medical School, “Aghia Sophia” General Children’s Hospital, Athens, Greece
  5. 5
    Department of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, “Aghia Sophia” General Children’s Hospital, Athens, Greece
  6. 6
    Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Department, Hippokration Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece
  7. 7
    2nd Department of Pediatrics, Aristotelion University of Thessaloniki, AHEPA General Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece
  8. 8
    Department of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, University Hospital of Heraklion, Heraklion, Greece
  9. 9
    Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche “Mario Negri”, Milan, Italy
  10. 10
    Istituto di Statistica Medica e Biometria “G.A. Maccacaro”, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
  11. 11
    International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France
  1. Eleni Th Petridou, Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, Athens University Medical School, 75 Mikras Asias Str, Athens 115 27, Greece; epetrid{at}


Background: Monitoring time trends in the incidence of childhood leukaemias and lymphomas requires efficient and continuous data collecting systems. In countries without official cancer registries, such as Greece, ad hoc nationwide registration of incident childhood leukaemias and lymphomas could help elucidate the underlying aetiology and monitor socioeconomic differentials in health care delivery.

Methods: We registered all cases and produced age, gender, type and immunophenotype specific figures and overall crude and age adjusted annual incidence rates and secular trends for 863 leukaemia and 311 lymphoma incident cases diagnosed in children <15 years of age across Greece during 1996–2006, namely the first 11 years of the Nationwide Registry for Childhood Hematological Malignancies.

Results: The epidemiological profiles of leukaemias/lymphomas in Greece are similar to those in industrialised countries. No secular trends are observed for either malignancy during the studied period. However, the calculated incidence for leukaemia (46.60 cases per 1 million children annually) is among the highest in the EU-27 (19% higher than average; p<0.001), whereas that for lymphoma (16.8 cases per 1 million children annually) is around the EU-27 average.

Conclusions: Minimal secular changes in childhood leukaemias/lymphomas have been noted recently in the EU-27, which cannot be easily explained in countries with small populations. Therefore, centralised EU databases such as the Automated Childhood Cancer Information System (ACCIS) should be enlarged to generate sufficient statistical power for monitoring time trends. It would be interesting to explore whether different lifestyle patterns across the EU might be responsible for the observed excess leukaemia incidence in countries such as Greece.

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  • The work of this paper was undertaken while CLV was a Senior Fellow at the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

  • Funding: The study is supported in part by the University of Athens.

  • Competing interests: None.