Studies have found lower risk of childhood cancer among Asian children. We aim to characterize the recent incidence and incidence-trend of childhood cancer in Taiwan after the National Health Insurance program was launched in March 1995. Data were extracted from the Taiwan Cancer Registry, a population-based database established in 1979. Cases diagnosed at age 0-14 from 1996 to 2010 were analyzed and categorized according to the International Classification of Childhood Cancer, Third Edition (ICCC-3). In total, 8032 childhood cancer cases were included, with a microscopic verification rate of 93.9%. The overall age-standardized rate (ASR) of incidence adjusted to the 2000 World Standard Population is 125.0 cases/million, with a male-to-female ratio of 1.3. The top five cancer types (ICCC-3 subgroup[s]; ASR per million) are acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ia, 30.3), acute myeloid leukemia (Ib; 9.4), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (IIb,c,e, 9.0), extracranial germ cell tumor (Xb,c; 8.3), and neuroblastoma (IVa; 7.8). The median age of diagnosis was 6 years for both genders. During the study period, the ASR of childhood cancer has been increasing at a rate of 1.2% per year (95% confidence interval, 0.6-1.7%). In contrast to Western countries, China, Japan, and Taiwan have lower incidence of childhood cancer; however, Taiwan's incidence rates of childhood germ cell tumors and hepatic tumors are higher. In conclusion, this population-based study reveals that the incidence rate of childhood cancer in Taiwan is rising consistently. The high incidence of germ cell tumors warrants further investigation.
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