How To Help Your Child Learn About Cancer


While it can be hard to talk to your children about cancer, it is important not to overload them with too much information or bombard them with medical jargon. 

However, children will still have questions, and it is likely they will want to know more about what is happening. 

How do you help children learn about cancer? 

It is natural that following an initial conversation about a cancer diagnosis, children will think of additional questions. They may want to understand how people get cancer or how treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, work.  

These can be difficult conversations to have, particularly if the questions are medical or scientific in nature. It might also be that you are still learning in this area too. 

Here are some tips to help children learn about cancer: 

  • Ask them what they already know 
  • Find age-appropriate resources that they can understand 
  • Facilitate self-paced learning, allowing children to take on as much information as they feel able to 
  • Focus on the areas they have questions about 
  • Learn with them, by spending time looking at resources together 
  • Allow children time to learn on their own if that’s how they feel most comfortable, but show interest in what they are learning 
  • After children learn something new, ask them what they now understand  

The first conversations you have with your children about cancer might be confusing and emotional, and that is OK.  

Some topics that children might want to learn about are: 

  • What cancer is and how you get it 
  • What a tumour is 
  • The different types of cancer 
  • Whether children can get cancer, and if it is different to cancer in adults 
  • What medicine is used to treat cancer 
  • The side-effects of treatment, such as hair loss 
  • The people and things that they might see in a hospital 

For age-appropriate cancer education for children, 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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