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Foreign children with cancer in Italy

Roberto Rondelli1*, Giorgio Dini2, Marisa De Rosa3, Paola Quarello4, Gianni Bisogno5, Maurizio Aricò6, Carivaldo Vasconcelos2, Paolo Tamaro7, Gabriella Casazza8, Marco Zecca9, Clementina De Laurentis10, Fulvio Porta11 and Andrea Pession1

Author Affiliations

1 Paediatric Oncology-Haematology "Lalla Seràgnoli", Policlinico S.Orsola-Malpighi, Bologna, Italy

2 Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, Institute G.Gaslini, Genova, Italy

3 Interuniversity Computing Centre (CINECA), Bologna, Italy

4 Paediatric Onco-Haematology, Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Division, Regina Margherita Children's Hospital, Turin, Italy

5 Department of Paediatrics, Division of Haematology Oncology, University Hospital of Padua, Padua, Italy

6 Department of Paediatric Haematology-Oncology Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Meyer Children Hospital, Florence, Italy

7 Institute for Maternal and Child Health, IRCCS "Burlo Garofolo", University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy

8 Paediatric Haematology Oncology, Bone Marrow Transplant, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Pisana, Ospedale S. Chiara, Pisa, Italy

9 Paediatric Haematology/Oncology, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico "San Matteo", Pavia, Italy

10 Department of Paediatric Haematology/Oncology, IRCCS, Bambino Gesù Hospital, Rome, Italy

11 AIEOP President, Oncology-Haematology and BMT Unit, Ospedale dei Bambini, Spedali Civili, Brescia, Italy

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Italian Journal of Pediatrics 2011, 37:44  doi:10.1186/1824-7288-37-44

Published: 18 September 2011



There has been a noticeable annual increase in the number of children coming to Italy for medical treatment, just like it has happened in the rest of the European Union. In Italy, the assistance to children suffering from cancer is assured by the current network of 54 centres members of the Italian Association of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology (AIEOP), which has kept records of all demographic and clinical data in the database of Mod.1.01 Registry since 1989.


We used the information stored in the already mentioned database to assess the impact of immigration of foreign children with cancer on centres' activity, with the scope of drawing a map of the assistance to these cases.


Out of 14,738 cases recorded by all centres in the period from 1999 to 2008, 92.2% were born and resident in Italy, 4.1% (608) were born abroad and living abroad and 3.7% (538) were born abroad and living in Italy. Foreign children cases have increased over the years from 2.5% in 1999 to. 8.1% in 2008.

Most immigrant children came from Europe (65.7%), whereas patients who came from America, Asia and Oceania amounted to 13.2%, 10.1%, 0.2%, respectively. The immigrant survival rate was lower compared to that of children who were born in Italy. This is especially true for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia patients entered an AIEOP protocol, who showed a 10-years survival rate of 71.0% vs. 80.7% (p < 0.001) for immigrants and patients born in Italy, respectively.


Children and adolescents are an increasingly important part of the immigration phenomenon, which occurs in many parts of the world. In Italy the vast majority of children affected by malignancies are treated in AIEOP centres. Since immigrant children are predominantly treated in northern Italy, these centres have developed a special expertise in treating immigrant patients, which is certainly very useful for the entire AIEOP network.