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The survey1 asked 500 children aged 9–16 what they know about cancer. The results show that 4% think cancer can be caught from someone else. One in five (21%) believe cancer is always fatal and over half (52%) do not know what it is. More than half say the word ‘cancer’ makes them feel frightened.
It also shows that 97% are unaware that sunburn can cause cancer. However, most (91%) are aware that smoking can cause cancer.
Katherine Donnelly, Schools Lead at Macmillan says, ‘As cancer affects more and more people, the chances of children knowing someone with the condition grows – be that their grandparent, parent or friend. This can be really distressing and they may feel too worried to ask questions.
‘Just over a quarter of children have been taught about cancer at school and this needs to improve.’
Macmillan has launched an information pack called the Talking about cancer toolkit|, to help teachers give young people the facts about cancer they need. It includes lesson plans, activity sheets and DVD clips.
You can order the toolkit online|. There is also a dedicated section of this website for children and young adults|.
1. Macmillan/TNS online survey of 501 UK children aged 9–16. Fieldwork conducted 3–9 August 2012. Survey results have not been weighted
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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