7 September 2012
Shocking new figures from Macmillan Cancer Support show that over 220,000 9-16 year olds (4%) believe that you can ‘catch’ cancer from someone else.
The poll, of 500 school children, shows that under-16 year olds are worryingly ill-informed about the lifestyle choices that can lead to cancer. Nearly all (97%) surveyed were unaware that sunburn can cause cancer, one in eleven (9%) don’t know that smoking causes it, whilst 2% think you can get it from being badly behaved.
And it isn’t just the causes of cancer that confuse children. One in five (21%) believe that cancer is always fatal and over half (52%) don’t know what cancer is. This is despite two-thirds (67%) knowing someone who has been diagnosed with it. It is not surprising, therefore, that over half (53%) say the word ‘cancer’ makes them feel frightened.
Katherine Donnelly, Schools Lead at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“The unknown is always scary and, as our survey has shown, cancer is something school children don’t know a lot about. 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’s Talking About Cancer toolkit helps teachers approach this difficult subject with lesson plans and exercises to educate children and dispel the myths.”
This is why Macmillan is launching the Talking About Cancer toolkit to give teachers everything they need to teach their pupils about the facts of cancer, so they can make informed lifestyle choices and create a more sensitive and cancer-aware society. It can be requested for free from www.macmillan.org.uk/teachingpack.
For further information, please contact:
Sarah Whiteley, Assistant Media and PR Officer
0207 840 4933 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
1 Macmillan/TNS online survey of 501 GB children aged 9-16. Fieldwork conducted 3-9 August 2012. Survey results have not been weighted.
Population estimates have been calculated using ONS 2010 Mid Year Population estimates which show there are 5,536,000 children aged 9-16 in Great Britain.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
Cancer is the toughest fight most of us will ever face. But you don’t have to go through it alone. The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way.
We are the nurses and therapists helping you through treatment. The experts on the end of the phone. The advisers telling you which benefits you’re entitled to. The volunteers giving you a hand with the everyday things. The campaigners improving cancer care. The fundraisers who make it all possible.
We are Macmillan Cancer Support