Cancer Council Australia

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Talking to kids about cancer

A cancer diagnosis can be confronting and overwhelming. And talking about cancer isn’t easy, especially if you have to explain the situation to children or teenagers. However, talking sensitively and honestly about the diagnosis can make children feel more secure.

Deciding when to talk to children about a cancer diagnosis and how much information to discuss can be difficult. How you talk to children will also depend on their age

Cancer Council can help you and your family cope with a cancer diagnosis and how to have the difficult conversations. For information and support on cancer-related issues call 13 11 20 – this is a confidential service.

For information on specific cancer types and treatments in children visit Cancer Australia.

Cancer Council also has a range of publications written for people affected by cancer. These provide practical information to help you and your family understand what the diagnosis means and how to explain it to children.

A number of our booklets are available as ebooks.

Click on one of the following categories to access our publications online.

Cancer support

Cancer treatments

To access Cancer Council ebooks

PC: Download a stand-alone ebook reader or install a browser add-on.

Mac: Use the iBooks app installed.

If you don't have an ebook reader, Wikipedia has an extensive list of open-source and paid ebook readers -

Cancer support

Talking to kids about cancer PDF | ebook

For anyone who needs to explain a diagnosis of cancer to children and teenagers.

Emotions and support PDF | ebook

Offers a range of tips and suggestions to help you adjust to a cancer diagnosis along with information about support services.

Understanding grief PDF

The way children understand death and experience grief changes with age and development. This booklet has been prepared to help understand about grief when someone close has died from cancer.

Cancer treatments and side effects

Understanding chemotherapy PDF | ebook

A guide to help you understand one of the main treatments for cancer.

Understanding radiotherapy PDF | ebook

Information on radiotherapy, one of the main treatments for cancer.

Understanding surgery PDF ebook

Helps you understand how surgery is commonly used to treat cancer.

Understanding palliative care PDF

This booklet was developed to help you better understand palliative care treatment which aims to enhance quality of life.

Hair loss Factsheet

It is important to prepare children for the potential side effects from cancer treatment. This fact sheet has information on hair loss resulting from cancer treatment.

Support services

Cancer Council
For information and support
13 11 20

Supports young people aged 12-24 affected by cancer
1800 226 833

Camp Quality
Services to build optimism and confidence in children aged 0-13 affected by cancer
1300 662 267

Provides mental health services to peopled aged 12-25
Kids Helpline
24 hour telephone and online counselling for young people aged 5-25
1800 55 1800

Offers financial, emotional and educational support for children and young people affected by cancer
1800 733 548

Supports young people with depression and other mental health issues.
1300 22 4636


This page was last updated on: Friday, October 20, 2017

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