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A fifth of Brits have known a child with cancer

Many are unaware of the long-term side effects

Almost one in five Brits have known a child who has suffered with cancer, a poll shows.

The study of 2,000 UK adults also found more than one in 10 have known someone to suffer with leukaemia, the most common form of childhood cancer.

But despite cancer being the most common cause of death among children in the UK, more than 90% of respondents were unaware that approximately 250 children lose their lives to cancer each year.

Mark Brider, acting chief executive of national charity Children with Cancer UK, which commissioned the research, said each September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month helps to highlight the impact of cancer on young people and their families.

“This, in turn, helps us to support more children, improve the lives of young cancer patients and their families and continue to fund lifesaving childhood cancer research in the hope that one day no child will die from the disease,” he added.

The study also found three in 10 adults are unaware of the long-term side effects of childhood cancer. For instance, 56% did not know suffering from childhood cancer could lead to secondary cancer later in life, while 54% were unaware it could cause infertility later in life.

More than six in 10 (62%) didn’t realise growth impairment can be a result of suffering from cancer at a young age and 70% did not know that cancer treatment could cause behavioural issues.

A further 53% were unaware of the potential impact of childhood cancer treatment on the mental health and wellbeing of children.

“Childhood cancers are very different to those found in adults, but all too often doctors have to rely upon treatments designed for adults, not children,” said Brider. “This can leave children facing lifelong health problems as their small bodies struggle to cope with toxic medicines. This makes childhood cancer research vital to improving survival rates as well as quality of survival.”