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Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 23:36 GMT 00:36 UK
Cancer 'is children's big fear'
Many children have first-hand experience of cancer
Children are more concerned about the risk of losing someone from cancer than the impact of terrorism and war, according a survey.

The MORI poll suggested that nearly two-thirds of 2,600 school-age children in England and Wales found cancer a greater cause of worry than terrorism and war in Afghanistan.

Cancer it seems, has become one of the major worries of a generation

Dr Lesley Walker
It also showed that 41% of 11-16 year olds knew someone who has had the disease.

The survey was commissioned by Cancer Research UK to establish the level of anxiety children felt about the disease.

The charity says the results highlight the need for more cancer information to be made available to school children.

Older children more anxious

The survey found that as children moved into their later teens their level of anxiety about cancer sharply increased.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of the 15 to 16-year-old respondents said the disease was more of a concern than terrorism or war in Afghanistan.

The poll also reveals both gender and geographic variations in children's experience of the disease.

Girls are more likely than boys to have known someone with cancer - 46% compared to 36%.

Cancer Research UK says this suggests that relatives may be more inclined to tell girls than boys, or that girls have a greater understanding of cancer than boys.

In the north east 52% of children said they knew of a relative with cancer. In London the proportion was only 27%.

Major worry

Dr Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK information director, said: "Cancer it seems, has become one of the major worries of a generation.

"Over the next year we are planning to develop a range of web-based resources that will help both students and teachers understand cancer better.

"Not only will this reduce fear of the disease we hope it will encourage more schoolchildren to take up the challenge of a career in cancer research."

Sir Paul Nurse, interim chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "Cancer mainly affects older people, but we hope we can encourage young people to adopt lifestyle measures that can help prevent the disease when they are older."

The research was based on 2,660 interviews with children aged 11-16 in England and Wales.

See also:

22 Oct 01 | Health
Cancer leaves mark on children
13 Aug 01 | Health
Children's cancer hope
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