BACKGROUND: South Asians in England have an increased risk of childhood cancer but incidence by their individual ethnicities using self-assigned ethnicity is unknown. Our objective was to compare the incidence of childhood cancer in British Indians and Whites in Leicester, which has virtually complete, self-assigned, ethnicity data and the largest population of Indians in England. METHODS: We obtained data on all cancer registrations from 1996 to 2008 for Leicester with ethnicity obtained by linkage to the Hospital Episodes Statistics database. Age-standardised incidence rates were calculated for childhood cancers in Indians and Whites as well as rate ratios, adjusted for age. RESULTS: There were 33 cancers registered among Indian children and 39 among White children. The incidence rate for Indians was greater compared to Whites for all cancers combined (RR 1.82 (95% CI 1.14 to 2.89); p = 0.01), with some evidence of increased risk of leukaemia (RR 2.20 (0.95 to 5.07); p = 0.07), lymphoma (RR 3.96 (0.99 to 15.84); p = 0.04) and central nervous system tumours (RR 2.70 (1.00 to 7.26); p = 0.05). Rates were also higher in British Indian children compared to children in India. CONCLUSIONS: British Indian children in Leicester had an increased risk of developing cancer compared to White children, largely due to a higher incidence of central nervous system and haematological malignancies.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Adolescent, Child, Child, Preschool, Demography, England, European Continental Ancestry Group, Female, Humans, Incidence, India, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Neoplasms