How To Answer Children's Frequently Asked Questions About Cancer


Children are naturally curious. When they find out that a parent or sibling has cancer, it is likely that they will have many questions. It is important that children feel informed, and that they do not feel like information is being withheld from them.

It is also normal that you might not have all the answers, especially if you are learning about cancer yourself.

Some of the most common questions children will have about cancer are:

  • What is cancer and how do you get it?
  • Why do some people get cancer and others do not?
  • Are there different types of cancer? What are they?
  • Can children get cancer?
  • Can you catch cancer?
  • How long does cancer last?
  • Does it hurt?
  • How do you treat cancer?
  • What is chemotherapy? What is radiotherapy?
  • Why do some people’s hair fall out? Will their hair grow back?
  • How can I help?

It is important to give children answers that are appropriate to their age, maturity and how much they want to know.

Here are some tips for answering common questions that children have about cancer:

  • Find trusted, age-appropriate resources to answer children’s questions
  • Ask them what they would like to know
  • Take the lead from your children in terms of areas they are interested in, and how much they feel comfortable learning
  • Work with them to find answers, and discuss these together
  • Ask them if they understand the answer to a question
  • Ask them how answers make them feel
  • Pay attention to your child’s reaction to answers, and stop or move onto a new topic if they find some aspects distressing

For age-appropriate answers to common questions about cancer, you can download Camp Quality’s free Kids’ Guide to Cancer app on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

For a full list of Parenting through Cancer resources click here
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