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This article is from the WebMD News Archive

Many unaware of impact of child cancer

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith
sad woman

1st September 2014 – Research has revealed that about 1 in 3 people in the UK are unaware of the hardships a family living in the UK faces when a child is diagnosed with cancer.

Every day in the UK, an average of 10 children and young people learn they have cancer. Treatment normally starts straight away at a specialist hospital and can last for up to 3 years. Not only does it have an emotional and financial impact on the family, but long journeys are often necessary for specialist treatment and some children experience bullying on returning to school.

CLIC Sargent, which is one of the UK's leading cancer charities for children and young people up to 25 years old, asked YouGov to carry out a survey in which 2,128 British adults were questioned in July 2014. The results have been released today to coincide with the start of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The survey found that:

  • About one in three (34%) adults living in Britain underestimated the number of children diagnosed with cancer. Each year about 1,600 children up to 15 years old living in the UK are diagnosed with cancer.
  • Almost a third (32%) underestimated the average distance a family needs to travel for a child to receive treatment for cancer at a specialist hospital – the average round-trip journey is 60 miles and it is often made several days a week.
  • Over a third (34%) underestimated the average extra costs a family incurs while a child is being treated for cancer. On average, a family spends £4,400 on travel, accommodation, hospital food and clothes (children lose and gain weight during treatment).
  • Although about 4 in 10 (41%) of those questioned correctly knew that a third of children treated for cancer experience bullying when they return to school, another 1 in 5 (19%) thought this could not be the case.

Public support to provide help for the families

The survey also revealed about two-thirds (66%) of those questioned were aware that a lack of support means most parents need to reduce their working hours while their child is undergoing treatment. In addition the survey indicated an overwhelming support for emotional and financial support to be made available to families during and after treatment:

  • 89% of people agreed that affected families should get professional emotional support throughout their child's treatment
  • 85% agreed the families should have financial support
  • 79% agreed that both emotional and financial support should continue after treatment ends for as long as it is needed.

Lorraine Clifton, CLIC Sargent's chief executive, says: "Cancer is a frightening experience and the emotional, practical and financial implications are intensely challenging for the whole family.

"Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of childhood cancer, and to ask people to support CLIC Sargent's work helping young cancer patients and their families."

Reviewed on September 01, 2014

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