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Children's views on cancer told in survey

CHILDREN'S views on cancer have been revealed -- with a survey showing that they do not know what causes the condition.

The poll of nine to 16-year-olds showed that 97pc of them did not know that sunburn can cause cancer, while 9pc did not know that it can be caused by smoking.

A small number, 2pc of the 500 surveyed, even thought that being badly behaved could lead to a cancer diagnosis. The survey also showed that 4pc of children think that you can catch cancer from someone else.



Protected

Katherine Donnelly, schools lead at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "Lots of people, including teachers, think that young children should be protected from talking about cancer. In many ways, it's still a bit of a taboo subject. Not all teachers feel confident about talking about it or know where to get the facts and figures from.

"The results showed that as children got older there was a slight increase in the number of those that had been taught about cancer, but not a hugely significant number."

Children were also unclear on what having cancer means -- with 21pc believing it is always fatal and more than half, 52pc saying they did not know what cancer is. Two-thirds of the young people surveyed, 67pc, said they knew someone who had been diagnosed with cancer and 53pc said just the word 'cancer' made them feel frightened.

Miss Donnelly added: "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."

hnews@herald.ie


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