Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With Treatment

Explaining cancer treatment to children can be tough. When facing cancer, adults usually feel anxious and scared enough without worrying about how a child will react, too. A lot of progress is being made in cancer treatment, but a first response of fear and uncertainty is normal.

It’s very hard to keep a cancer diagnosis a secret for long. The challenge is fitting cancer and its treatment into a family’s everyday life. This includes helping children deal with the major changes it causes. Here we will try to share information that can help you help a child who knows and cares about someone with cancer.

If the person with cancer is a child or teen, you may want to read Children Diagnosed With Cancer: Dealing With Diagnosis

This is one in a series of pieces covering topics to help children when someone in the family has cancer. The others cover diagnosis, recurrence, terminal illness, losing a parent, and psychosocial support services. For more on these and other topics, go to the “To learn more” section.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: January 29, 2015 Last Revised: April 27, 2015

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