Causes of children's cancer

This information was written by the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG).

It is still unknown as to what causes childhood cancer and research is being done to find out more. Parents often worry that something they did or didn’t do may have caused their child’s cancer. This is not the case, so you shouldn’t feel guilty or that you’re to blame for your child’s illness.

It’s very rare for another child in a family to develop cancer, as most cancers aren’t caused by an inherited faulty gene and so it is usually not necessary to investigate siblings.

Cancer is not infectious and can’t be passed on to anyone who comes into contact with your child.

Cancer clusters

Sometimes, two or three children in the same school or local area develop cancer. This can make people worry that something in the local area is causing the cancer. Several cases of cancer in a small area are known as a cancer cluster.

Cancer clusters are carefully investigated, but are usually found to be a coincidence rather than being caused by a particular chemical or environmental change.

Children's cancer information from CCLG

This information about children’s cancer was written by the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG). It has been reviewed and edited by their publications committee, which includes medical experts from all fields of children’s cancer and care.

Back to About children's cancers

Survival rates

There have been huge improvements in cancer treatment for children and more children than ever are surviving cancer.

Medical terms explained

Doctors may use unfamiliar words about your child's cancer and we explain some of the most common ones.