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Children unaware of what causes cancer

7th September 2012

A poll from Macmillan Cancer Support has revealed that many children are uncertain of the causes of cancer.

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The charity surveyed 500 children between the ages of nine and 16 and found that 97% did not know sunburn can cause cancer, though 91% did know that smoking causes it but many admitted the word frightens them.

However, a small number did believe that they can get it from behaving badly and many did not understand what it meant to have cancer with 20% saying it was always fatal and 4% thinking it can be caught from another person.

But two-thirds said they did know someone who had cancer.

Now, the charity is calling for teachers to educate pupils about cancer at school after its poll indicated that many are ill-informed about the disease.

The charity was also concerned that many people, including teachers, think cancer is a taboo subject and children should be protected from talking about it.

Katherine Donnelly from Macmillan Cancer Support said: “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.”

With only about 25% of pupils being taught about cancer at school at present, the charity has now produced an information pack called Talking About Cancer to address that and allow teachers to plan lessons around the subject.

 

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