More than half (56%) of parents put off or did not tell their child about a cancer diagnosis among their close family or friends, a poll reveals.
The survey by Bupa found more than a third of these parents waited until treatment was underway or finished, and one in five (21%) kept it completely secret.
The main reason for parents to delay or avoid telling their children that a loved one has cancer is because they do not want to worry them.
One in seven (14%) parents said they would be worried that the news could have a negative impact on their child’s mental health, and 12% thought it would disrupt their child’s schoolwork.
Meanwhile, 44% said they were unsure where to get support for children dealing with a loved one being diagnosed with cancer.
Julia Ross, head of cancer care at Bupa UK, although no parent wants to upset their child, withholding information may be more harmful and cause them to be become anxious or worried.
“From my professional experience and as a parent, I know that children will respond differently, so it’s important to be adaptable. We offer our cancer patients and their families access to counselling and mental health support following a cancer diagnosis so that everyone gets the emotional support they need when they need it,” she added.
Bupa has created a series of “I know someone with cancer” guides which parents can use to explain what cancer means, what may happen and guidance for helping children deal with their emotions.