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BBC News' Megan Theobald
"The Macmillan project aims to take some of the sting out of the adult fear of cancer"
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Tuesday, 18 January, 2000, 10:14 GMT
Teaching children about cancer

class writing The packs tie in with the national curriculum

A cancer charity has launched teaching packs for schools to try to educate children about the disease.

Macmillan Cancer Relief says that many children have misconceptions about cancer, and it wants to debunk the myths surrounding the disease.

Two packs aimed at primary and secondary schools have been developed in association with teachers, and are based on national curriculum guidelines.

scan There are many myths surrounding cancer and its treatment
They were officially launched by Minister for Public Health, Yvette Cooper, at a primary school in Battersea, London, on Tuesday.

The primary school pack, for pupils aged between nine and 12, has been designed to link in with the national literacy strategy's literacy hour.

It examines the concepts of ambiguity and bias, and explores differences between fact and opinion.

The secondary school pack, for pupils aged between 12 and 14, has been designed for use in personal, social and health education classes.

Reducing fear

It is aimed at raising awareness of what cancers are, how they might be avoided, and how to cope with emotions sparked by the disease.

Murray Lindo, head of Macmillan Cancer Relief's programme for schools, said: "There are so many misconceptions out there: you can catch cancer, if you get cancer you're going to die, only older people get cancer, it's always painful, and so on.

Our research tells us kids are more robust than we give them credit for
Murray Lindo, Macmillan Cancer Relief
"We want to reduce children's fear of the disease, using a myth and fact type of approach. We want to see what they know, see what they want to know, and hopefully provide them with some answers.

"Its adults who tend not to talk about cancer. Our research tells us kids are more robust than we give them credit for.

"The packs aim to help teachers tackle a subject they find difficult."

Ms Cooper said: "Although cancer will touch most of us at some stage in our lives - directly or indirectly - its causes and effects remain often misunderstood.

"The packs are to be applauded for helping children to learn the difference between cancer facts and fiction, and to better understand the impact the disease can have."

The packs have been developed as part of the charity's "A voice for life" initiative. The aims of the initiative include challenging public attitudes to cancer, and reducing the unecessary fear surrounding the disease.

One free copy of each pack is being made available to all schools in the UK.
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See also:
13 Oct 99 |  Health
Public gripped by cancer myths

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