Cohort profile: the United Kingdom Childhood Cancer Study (UKCCS) – a UK- wide population- based study examining the health of cancer survivors: the United Kingdom Childhood Cancer Study (UKCCS) - a UK-wide population-based study examining the health of cancer survivors

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PURPOSE: The United Kingdom Childhood Cancer Study's (UKCCS's) matched cohort was established to examine the longer term morbidity and mortality of individuals previously diagnosed with cancer before 15 years of age, comparing future healthcare patterns in 5-year cancer survivors to baseline activity seen in age- and sex-matched individuals from the general population.

PARTICIPANTS: Predicated on a national childhood cancer case-control study conducted in the early 1990s (4430 cases, 9753 controls) in England, Scotland and Wales, the case population comprises 3125 cancer survivors (>5 years), and the control population 7156 age- and sex-matched individuals from the general population who did not have cancer as a child. Participants are now being followed up via linkage to national administrative healthcare databases (deaths, cancers and secondary care hospital activity).

FINDINGS TO DATE: Enabling the creation of cohorts with minimal selection bias and loss to follow-up, the original case-control study registered all newly diagnosed cases of childhood cancer and their corresponding controls, regardless of their family's participation. Early findings based on the registered case population found marked survival variations with age and sex across subtypes and differences with deprivation among acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) survivors. More recently, comparing the health-activity patterns of the case and control populations revealed that survivors of childhood ALL experienced excess outpatient and inpatient activity across their teenage/young adult years. Adding to increased risks of cancer and death and involving most clinical specialties, excesses were not related to routine follow-up monitoring and showed no signs of diminishing over time.

FUTURE PLANS: With annual linkage updates, the UKCCS's maturing population-based matched cohorts provide the foundation for tracking the health of individuals through their lifetime. Comparing the experience of childhood cancer survivors to that of unaffected general-population counterparts, this will include examining subsequent morbidity and mortality, secondary care hospital activity and the impact of deprivation on longer term outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere073712
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023


  • Adolescent
  • Young Adult
  • Humans
  • Child
  • Cancer Survivors
  • Neoplasms/epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom/epidemiology

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