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Children's cancers

Children's cancers affect approximately 150 children and teenagers under the age of 15 each year in Ireland. The most common tumours in children are brain tumours. About 1 in every 3 cancers that affect children are leukaemias, which are blood cancers.

Treatment for children's cancers depends on the type of cancer and can involve chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, targeted therapies, and stem cell and bone marrow transplants.

On this page

It is rare for children to get cancer. The most common cancers that affect children are: 

  • Leukaemia. Cancer of the white blood cells, which help us to fight infection.
  • Brain tumour. Cancer that causes a tumour (lump of abnormal cells) in the brain. The brain, together with the spinal cord, controls all the functions of the body.  
  • Sarcoma. Cancer affecting muscles (soft tissue sarcoma) or bone (bone sarcoma). 
  • Germ cell tumour. Cancer that affects the cells that make eggs (in a girl’s ovaries) or sperm (in a boy’s testicles).
  • Lymphoma. Cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system. There are two main types: Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Liver cancer. Cancer that affects the liver. The liver helps blood to clot, breaks down fats and carbohydrates from our food and gets rid of harmful substances from our body.
  • Neuroblastoma. Cancer that affects nerve cells called neural crest cells. It can happen anywhere in your body.
  • Retinoblastoma. A rare cancer that causes a tumour in the eye.
  • Wilms’ tumour (kidney). Affects the kidney. The kidneys filter your blood to remove waste products. 

About 1 in every 3 cancers that affect children are leukaemias, which are blood cancers. The most common tumours in children are brain tumours. If your child has a rare type of cancer, talk to the doctors and nurses about it, as they can give you more information.

Peer to peer support for parents of children with cancer

Would you like to speak to a trained parent volunteer who really knows what you are going through, and understands what it is like to have a child with cancer?

Childhood Cancer Fertility Project

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Publications about children's cancers
Downloadable booklets and factsheets
Children and young people with cancer booklet
Children and Young People with Cancer – A Guide for Parents
This booklet is written for parents whose child has been diagnosed with cancer.
Brain and spinal cord cover
Brain and spinal cord tumours in children
This book has been written as a guide for parents of children with a brain or spinal cord tumour
Talking to children about cancer booklet
Talking to Children about Cancer - A guide for parents booklet
This booklet has been written to help parents, families and carers explain a diagnosis of cancer to children. It also looks at how a cancer diagnosis is likely to affect them.
Precious times handbook
Precious times - a handbook on palliative care for parents of children with cancer booklet
This book is designed for families of children who have advanced cancer. The purpose of this book is to give you and your family information which will hopefully help you during palliative care.
Guide for families of children receiving proton beam therapy
Guide for families of children receiving proton beam therapy
This leaflet will tell you all you need to know if your child is going to have proton beam therapy abroad. (Download only)

For more information

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1800 200 700

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