A study, which polled 1,000 parents of kids in secondary school, has revealed that two thirds of parents think teachers should teach schoolchildren about the signs and symptoms of cancer. The results also suggests mums and dads would like the education process to start at the age of 11.
According to the study, 83 per cent feel it is important for their children to learn about illnesses and diseases which may affect them in the future, however the same research also revealed nearly a third of UK parents themselves feel uncomfortable talking about cancer with their children. The Eve Appeal, a national charity dedicated to raising awareness of the five gynaecological cancers, commissioned the OnePoll.com research.
Athena Lamnisos, Chief Executive of The Eve Appeal, said: “We want the next generation of children to be armed with knowledge that can help save lives. A child’s relationship with their body is the longest one they will have – and we want schools to teach them how to respect and understand it.
“We know early diagnosis is imperative to a better outcome for patients – especially with gynae cancers – and preventing cancer is what we, and parents, all want to see. We’re recommending that basic body knowledge is included from age seven and that cancer screening, prevention and signs and symptoms education begins at age 10. It’s essential that these issues are taught in both age appropriate and taboo-busting ways. We must increase knowledge and reduce embarrassment.”
The Eve Appeal has launched its Put Cancer on the Curriculum campaign, calling for the government’s new draft guidance on relationships and health education to include education on cancer, along with enhanced anatomical body knowledge. Deborah James is a mum of two and former deputy head teacher who was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer at the age of 35, which has now advanced to stage 4.
Backing the campaign, Deborah said: “As a former deputy head teacher I feel strongly that schools already carry a huge burden of responsibility in picking up the threads of health and relationship education where parents seem either unwilling or unable to do so. Yet as a mum and somebody living with cancer, I also feel it’s imperative kids are educated in respect of their bodies, hard as those conversations may be. I had no idea the symptoms I was experiencing prior to my diagnosis were classic symptoms of bowel cancer. Perhaps if a cancer education programme was fully immersed into the curriculum when I was at school, things may have turned out very differently for me.”
September is Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the month The Eve Appeal wants to encourage members of the public to sign up in support of the Put Cancer on the Curriculum campaign.