Children’s cancer services

The difference with childhood cancer

Children with cancer have very different needs to adults. Children are growing and developing physically which affects the types of cancer they're most likely to have, the kind of treatment they need, and how well treatment works.

Cancer and treatment can have an emotional impact as well as a physical one. How this affects your child will depend on their age and level of maturity.

Children also need help to keep up with their education. Their families need support, too.

Cancer services for children

Meeting these needs requires expert knowledge and skills. The NHS in England has therefore set up cancer services especially for babies and children up to the age of 16. These services are called paediatric oncology.

Children's cancer services should meet national standards. These are set out in an official document known as a service specification, which explains how NHS cancer care should work for children and families in England.

Summary for parents

CLIC Sargent has worked with the NHS to develop a summary to help explain what you can expect from your child's NHS cancer care. You can read the summary here: NHS Cancer Service specification summary

This summary tells you the highlights of the service specification. It explains:

  • The main standards for a children's cancer service
  • How the service works
  • What quality of care you can expect for your child.

There is also information about what to do if you think these standards are not being met.

16 to 24-year-olds

CLIC Sargent has developed a separate summary for young people aged 16-24 to help explain what to expect from your NHS cancer care, working with Teenage Cancer Trust and the NHS.

Updated March 2018, next review due 2019.