A smiling girl holding her bandana, which covers her bald head

Children's cancer

If your child has been diagnosed with cancer or you're worried about children's cancer, we have information and support to help. 

About children’s cancer

Cancer is rare in children. Around 170 children and teenagers under the age of 16 are diagnosed each year in Ireland.  Children's cancers are different to adult cancers. They often affect different parts of the body and behave differently. About 1 in every 3 cancers that affects children is leukaemia, which is a blood cancers. The most common tumours in children are brain tumours. Read more about children’s cancers.

What are the symptoms of children’s cancer?
Although cancer is rare in children, if you’re worried about cancer or if your child has unusual changes in their body, it’s always best to talk to your doctor. Read more about symptoms of children’s cancer

How are children’s cancers diagnosed?
Tests that can diagnose cancer in children include blood tests, scans and biopsies (taking a sample of cells from the body). The type of tests depend on which cancer is suspected. Tests are usually done in CHI Crumlin, Dublin. If a brain tumour is suspected, you may go  CHI, Temple St Hospital in Dublin. Read more about tests and how children’s cancer is diagnosed.

Why does cancer happen?
In most cases we don’t know why children get cancer. There are some factors that increase the risk of certain cancers but they are rare and cannot be controlled. Read more about risk factors for children’s cancer

Children’s Fund

The Irish Cancer Society’s financial support fund for children and their families, is available to assist children on active treatment for a cancer diagnosis.  

This fund is for patients under the age of 18 years, who have been diagnosed with cancer, and whose family are unable to meet a specific financial burden that has come about as a direct result of their illness.

A family speaking to a doctor

Will my child get better?
More children than ever are surviving cancer. Treatment is better than ever and around 8 in 10 children will be completely cured. Every child is different and your child’s doctor will talk to you about the likely success of treatment.

After a children's cancer diagnosis

A girl in a hospital bed with a nurse

What happens after diagnosis?

The time after you find out your child has cancer can be overwhelming. You will meet their healthcare team to discuss and plan their treatment. Treatment may start quite soon, and you may need to stay at the hospital. We have information on what to expect and support to help you cope with your feelings.

A boy in a hospital bed smiling at his nurse


Starting treatment is a huge change in your family’s life. We have advice on preparing for treatment, types of treatment and coping with life during treatment. Read more about treatment.

Father and son walking into the sunset

After treatment

After treatment your child will continue to have follow-up care. This is also a time where your family will adjust emotionally and practically as you move towards a new normal. 

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?

All of our parent volunteers have children who have been treated for cancer in the past. This service is also available to other adult family members, such as grandparents, uncles, aunts.

To be referred to one of our trained parent volunteers please call the Irish Cancer Society Support Line on Freephone 1800 200 700 or by email supportline@irishcancer.ie

School child in uniform
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
Precious times handbook
Precious times - a handbook on palliative care for parents of children with cancer
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)
Child finishes treatment booklet cover
My child has finished cancer treatment
A guide to follow-up and adjusting to normal life for parents and carers whose child or teenager has finished treatment for cancer

More information about children's cancer

Signs and symptoms, risk factors of childhood cancer, and how childhood cancer is diagnosed.

Treating children's cancer

Types of treatment, side-effects and understanding medical language.

More information about coping with children's cancers

Coping with your child's diagnosis, coping emotionally and services for children with cancer.

For more information

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1800 200 700

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