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KNOWLEDGE POWER: CANCER FACTS FOR KIDS
Kids are young, healthy and strong. So what do kids need to know about cancer?
First, kids need to know that they can make a difference. If a parent, grandparent, friend or teacher has cancer, their help and understanding can be important.
What can kids do to help? They can participate in fund-raising activities. They can be a friend to someone who has cancer. And they can learn more about the disease.
What Is Cancer?
Cancer's not just one disease -- it's more than 100. There's stomach cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer and hundreds more. And each one acts, and is treated, differently.
So, what do those 100-plus diseases have in common? It's the uncontrolled growth of abnormal -- or unhealthy -- cells, which grow and choke out normal cells just like weeds in a garden.
Can I Catch It?
Scientists know that you can't "catch" cancer from someone who has it. It doesn't spread like the chicken pox or flu. You can't catch it from being with a person who has cancer or by drinking from the same glass as that person.
But then why do several people in one family sometimes get cancer? Does having someone in your family who has cancer mean that you also are going to get cancer? Usually, it doesn't. If you have questions about your family, don't worry -- talk to a doctor.
What If Someone In My Family Has Cancer?
These are things you should know if someone in your family has cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute.
More people are living with cancer now than ever before, and new ways to treat cancer are being discovered.
Having cancer doesn't necessarily mean a person will die from it.
Nothing you did or didn't do caused your family member to get cancer.
Nothing you thought or said caused your family member to get cancer.
Cancer is not contagious. You can't catch it from someone else or give it to anyone else.
You or your parents could not have protected your brother or sister from getting cancer.
If someone in your family has cancer, that doesn't mean that you or anyone else in your family also will get it.
Nobody can tell you why your parent or brother or sister is sick, and you're healthy.
The way you behave cannot change the fact that someone has cancer or that your family is upset.
It is good for you to continue with school and outside activities.
Can Cancer Be Cured?
Just because someone you love has cancer, that doesn't mean he or she is going to die. Although some people do die from cancer, many do not. In fact, more people are living with cancer today than ever before.
There are four main kinds of treatment for cancer: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and biological therapy. These treatments are used to destroy cancer cells. Depending on what type of cancer people have, they could have one kind of treatment or a combination of treatments.
Want to learn more about cancer treatments?
Learning More On Your Own
Now you know something about cancer in general, you may want to know more about a specific kind of cancer that affects someone you love. If you want to know more, the National Institute of Health suggests you ask an adult or doctor questions like these:
What kind of cancer is it?
Where is the cancer?
Will my family member get better?
What is the best kind of treatment for this type of cancer? Will more than one kind of treatment be used?
How do people feel when they receive this treatment? Does the treatment hurt?
How often is this treatment given? How long will the treatments last?
Does the treatment change how people look, feel, or act? If so, how?
How long do treatments last -- a morning, a week? Can I visit?
Where are treatments given? What is it like? Can I come along?
What will happen to me during these treatments?
Can people receiving this treatment go back to school or work right away? Is it better for them to stay at home?
Can my family member eat the same foods as everyone else? If not, what special foods or diets are needed?
What can I do to help?