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 200 children under the age of 16 and around 70 teenagers aged between 15 and 19 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 cancer. The most common tumours in children are brain and central nervous system 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?
There have been huge improvements in cancer treatments for children in the past 50 years. As a result, more children than ever are surviving cancer. Some forms of cancer are now completely curable. Research is also continuing to improve treatments and reduce side-effects. Every child is different and your child's doctor will talk to you about their illness and the likely success of treatment.

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


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
Childhood cancer in Ireland statistics infographic thumbnail
Childhood Cancer in Ireland infographic
Information and statistics on childhood cancer in Ireland, in PDF format to print A4, save or share.
A list of symptoms which may be signs of childhood cancers
Childhood cancer symptoms infographic
A list of the most common symptoms of child and adolescent cancers, in PDF format to print A4, save or share.
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
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
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
When your child's cancer comes back cover
When your child's cancer comes back
Information for parents and families of a child or young person with relapsed or refractory cancer
Cover of the Precious Times booklet, showing a child's drawing of a house
Precious Times
A palliative care handbook for parents

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.

Creative Arts Therapy

The Irish Cancer Society offers free Creative Arts Therapy support for Children, Adolescents and Young Adults (CAYA) with or in survivorship of cancer (0-24) and their siblings.

Creative Arts Therapies include; Art Therapy, Dramatherapy and Music Therapy and can be used to support the psychosocial needs of a young person.

Learn about Creative Arts Therapy


Support for teachers

Cancer in the classroom is an Irish Cancer Society video guide to help school staff to support children and young people affected by cancer.

Click here to watch the videos.


For more information

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1800 200 700

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