Third of public underestimates devastating impact of childhood cancer

CLIC Sargent has revealed survey results to mark the start of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Third of public underestimates devastating impact of childhood cancer

A shocking lack of public awareness of the devastating impact that childhood cancer has on families across the UK is revealed in new research by CLIC Sargent, released today to mark the start of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

1,600 children (aged 0-15) are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK, but more than a third (34%) of adults in Britain underestimated this number – and over a quarter (26%) did not know.

Almost a third (32%) underestimated the gruelling 60 mile round trip many families have to travel on average, often many days a week, for children to receive treatment for cancer at a specialist hospital  – and over a fifth (22%) did not know.

One in three (34%) thought that the average amount of extra money a year families have to spend to cope with the extra costs of childhood cancer was less than the actual figure of £4,400, with just over a fifth (21%) knowing the correct amount spent on things such as travel, accommodation, hospital food and clothes for children who gain and lose weight during treatment.

Just over four in ten (41%) correctly identified that a third of children with cancer experience bullying when they return to school  - but almost one in five (19%) believed that this could not be the case.

The survey, carried out by YouGov on behalf of CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people aged 0-25, questioned 2,128 British adults and is published today (September 1) to mark the start of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. 

CLIC Sargent provides vital emotional, financial and practical support to the thousands of children diagnosed with cancer each year – supporting children and families from diagnosis and through treatment that can last up to three years.

This September, CLIC Sargent is joining other charities in the UK to make September the month to raise awareness of the impact that childhood cancer has on families across the UK, and is calling on the public to wear a gold ribbon to show their support for those families coping with childhood cancer.

The survey found that while people were not aware of the financial and traveling impact a childhood cancer diagnosis can have on families, they were much more informed of the impact that a diagnosis has on parents’ employment with two thirds (66%) knowing that a lack of support means most parents have to reduce the hours they work when their child is undergoing treatment.

It also revealed overwhelming support amongst the public for both emotional and financial support to be available to families during and after treatment with:

  • 89% of people agreeing that families affected by cancer should have access to emotional support from trained professionals throughout their child’s treatment.
  • 85% agreeing that affected families should have access to financial support throughout and
  • 79% agreeing that both emotional and financial support should be available to families after treatment ends, for as long as the child or family need it.

Lorraine Clifton, CLIC Sargent’s Chief Executive, says: “It’s clear from the results of this survey that many people simply do not know that children get cancer and that, though childhood cancer is thankfully rare, a child’s cancer diagnosis and the often long cancer treatment can have a devastating impact on children and their families.

“At CLIC Sargent we know just how overwhelming a child’s cancer diagnosis can be - and we support families through the often gruelling treatment, which can last up to three years.

“Cancer is a frightening experience and the emotional, practical and financial implications are intensely challenging for the whole family. Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of childhood cancer, and to ask people to support CLIC Sargent’s work helping young cancer patients and their families.

“We are calling on people to wear a gold ribbon throughout September to show they are standing by the thousands of families coping with the devastating impact of a cancer diagnosis and its treatment, and to make a donation to help us continue our work.”

CLIC Sargent’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month activity is in partnership with Network Rail.

Notes to editor

For more information, an interview, case studies and pictures of children and their families, please contact Kat Baldwyn on 020 8752 2833 or email: kat.baldwyn@clicsargent.org.uk. Outside office hours please call 08448 481189.

Footnotes

  1. CLIC Sargent (2010) A Long Way From Home: The impact of travel on children and young people with cancer highlights the impact of travelling long distances for cancer treatment for children and young people aged up to 18-years-old
  2. CLIC Sargent (2011) Costs Counting the Costs of Cancer: The financial impact of cancer on children, young people and their families examines the financial needs of children and young people with cancer.
  3. CLIC Sargent (2012) No child with cancer left out conducted research with 221 parents, 60 children, 68 CLIC Sargent health and social care professionals and 17 hospital schools, using the findings to identify a range of challenges in helping children keep up with their education when off school, as well as re-integrating when they return.

The survey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,128 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between July 28 - 29 2014.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Key findings

  • More than a third (34%) of people surveyed underestimated how many children are diagnosed with cancer each year:
    -    And 26% had no idea.
  • Almost a third (32%) thought the round-trip to a specialist hospital for children’s treatment was less than the average 60 miles that affected families face.
  • A third (34%) thought the extra costs faced by families from cancer is lower than the £4,400 average annual bill they face:
    -    And another 28% had no idea what the figure might be
  • Just over four in ten (41%) correctly identified that a third of children diagnosed with cancer experienced bullying when they returned to school.
  • Just under 2/3 (63%) people underestimated how many children are alive at least five years after their diagnosis.
  • But the public were more informed about parents having to reduce their hours at work to support their children during treatment:
    -    66% correctly identified that most parents do not get enough support which means they have to reduce their hours at work.
  • And there was overwhelming support amongst the public for families to receive financial and emotional support during and after treatment:
    -    89% agreed families affected by cancer should have access to emotional support throughout treatment.
    -    85% agreed families should have access to financial support throughout treatment and
    -    79% thought both emotional and financial support should be available after treatment, for as long as the child or family need it.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Previously held in December, charities and support groups who work with children and young people with cancer in the UK have joined together in September this year for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The move brings the UK into line with other countries around the world, including the USA, Canada, Australia and Northern Ireland.

About cancer in children and young people

Every day, 10 children and young people in the UK hear the shocking news they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.

Note to sub editors

Please note that the name ‘CLIC Sargent’ should not be abbreviated to CLIC, and that the word ‘CLIC’ should always appear in capitals, as above.

[i] CLIC Sargent (2010) A Long Way From Home: The impact of travel on children and young people with cancer

[ii]  CLIC Sargent (2011) Costs Counting the Costs of Cancer: The financial impact of cancer on children, young people and their families

[iii] CLIC Sargent (2012) No child with cancer left out

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