Children with cancer, parents and healthcare staff

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.

In most cases we don’t know why children get cancer. Unfortunately, there is nothing a parent can do to prevent childhood cancer, as the risk factors linked to childhood cancers are not things we can control. 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.

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

parents talking to 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.

Different children's cancer treatments

Treatment

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.

Teenage friends

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. 

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.
Childhood cancer in Ireland statistics infographic thumbnail
Childhood Cancer in Ireland infographic
This infographic has information and statistics on childhood cancer in Ireland.
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.
(Available to 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
Supporting brothers and sisters cover pic blue
Supporting brothers and sisters of a child with cancer
A practical information guide for parents and other adults who are caring for siblings of a child with 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.

Support for teachers

Cancer in the classroom

When anyone in a school community has a cancer diagnosis, education providers have an opportunity to support children and young people.

Cancer in the classroom is an Irish and English language guide for school staff who would like to support students, affected by cancer.

It is important to remember that each cancer experience is different, and each individual navigates it in his or her own way. The information can be adapted to suit both primary and secondary school staff.

  • The Irish language version is here.
  • The English language version is here.

Our Support Line nurses can also give advice to parents and professionals on all types of cancer, coping, supports available and more. Our Support Line is free to call on 1800 200 700 

Boy drawing in art therapy

For more information

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1800 200 700

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