CCV’s ‘Email a Cancer Nurse’ service

Cancer Council Victoria’s ‘Email a Cancer Nurse’ email service was established in 2007 as an adjunct to our 13 11 20 Information and Support line. Prior to the service being made formally available, any requests for information that were of a clinical or emotional nature were responded to as needed by nurses within the Cancer Information and Support Service (CISS). As web-based communication and information became more frequent, so too did the number of enquiries to the CISS email address, and so a designated service was created in order to respond consistently to the needs of Victorians affected by cancer.

Over time, this service has come to be internationally recognised as one that is able to provide timely, evidence-based and consistent information that is also personalised, empathetic and compassionate. Enquiries are received not only from Victoria, but from people throughout Australia and overseas. Responses are generally sent on the day that the original enquiry is received or by the next business day.

A designated group of nurses who work on the Information and Support line are also responsible for the Email a Nurse portfolio, and over time these nurses have built a library of over 90 evidence-based templates that can be personalised to respond to any topic, ranging from practical issues such as access to wigs or financial assistance and community support, enquiries relating to cancer risk and prevention or complex treatment and management questions including access to clinical trials or complementary and alternative therapies. All emails are checked for quality and consistency by the Nurse Manager prior to being sent, despite the use of templates as a base for each response.

Demographic information that we receive for each enquiry via the web-form from the Cancer Council Victoria website includes:

  • First Name
  • Surname
  • Email
  • Date of Birth
  • Gender
  • Postcode
  • Country of Birth
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Status
  • The type of cancer the enquiry relates to (if applicable)
  • How they relate to the enquiry (general public, patient, carer, health professional etc)
  • What the question is about (treatment, support services, survivorship, prevention etc)

This information not only aligns with our mandatory data collection but also allows the nurse to personalise the response whilst also providing accurate information based on their age, location, and cancer type etc.

In 2014, our nurses responded to 10,595 calls for information and support, and 868 email enquiries. In 2015, calls rose to 10,753 while email numbers dropped slightly to 829.

De-identified email examples and responses

Example A: International email

Original enquiry:
Country: Italy

Type of cancer asking about: Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

Situation best describes you: I am caring for someone

Question Category: Treatment


Dear sirs,

I am writing on behalf of a friend of mine, whose daughter has been just recently diagnosed having a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

The eight years old girl is currently under treatment in Italy, where she is having some radiotherapy sessions, using the latest type of radiotherapy (apparently a very precise machine that can target a narrow part of the brain, not the full area).

My friend has been told by one of the doctors that apparently in Australia, more “precisely” in Queensland, there is a new type of cure brought forward to fight against DIPG, which consists in the use of the melting of some special flowers or seeds.

I am sorry I can’t be more precise or detailed, but this is all the information my friend received. We do have anyway if need be, some M.R.I. results that we can send to Australia via courier.

Anyone that reading this email, knows what I am talking about and has any useful info to share, I would be very grateful if he/she can contact me, even for just info that may sound not important, because at this stage any info is important and can possibly lead to find a solution or to find the best way to fight this cancer.

I can be contacted either at this e-mail address or via phone.

Thanks for your time.
Nurse Response:
Thank you for your email. I am so sorry to read that your friend’s 8 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with DIPG. I can imagine that this kind of news would have come as a big shock to your friend, and they are very lucky to have you around for support. I am glad that you thought to contact us here at Cancer Council Victoria.

First of all, I have attached our resource booklet called ‘Talking to Children about Cancer’ in case you or your friend would like to have a read. It is a very useful resource that addresses areas such as: how to talk to children about their cancer diagnosis, how to talk about their treatment, how children may respond if cancer advances, and some of the words you can use in these conversations.

DIPG affects the pons portion of the brainstem, affecting the functioning of your friend’s daughter’s nervous system. As you may be aware, DIPG is a disease which usually strikes at the heart of childhood, most commonly between the ages of 5-9.  It is a highly aggressive and difficult to treat brain tumour.

As we are a nurse-led service, we do not prescribe treatment for patients, so are not in a position to provide any medical information regarding this special flower or seed. I would suggest that your friend go back to the doctor who recommended this treatment to provide them with more specific information about its use, availability and suitability to their daughter.

Alternatively, you may wish to contact the equivalent Italian cancer organisation that is committed to helping cancer patients in your country. Their details are as follows:

Associazione Italiana Malati di Cancro (AIMaC)
Provides information in Italian and support to cancer patients, their families and friends.

Phone: 840 503579 (free)

I would also like to take this opportunity to let you know about an American organisation called The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. They have a database of botanicals that your friend could use, if they were to get more information about this special flower or seed. This database may be found at : . Despite any information you or your friend may find online about this treatment, we would still encourage your friend to speak with the treating specialist who knows their daughter well, and can give individual advice specific to her.

I hope that this information will be of some assistance to you and your friend. We wish your friend’s daughter all the best with her treatment and health

Kind regards,

Example B: Cancer Risk/Prevention

Original enquiry:
Country: Australia
Type of cancer asking about: N/A

Situation best describes you: General Public

Question Category: Prevention


I was wondering if you have the statistics on cancer sufferers who are meat eaters, to non-meat eaters. By meat I mean only red meat, although with the poisons in the water now and the pesticides used maybe fish, chicken and pork should be included.


Nurse Response:

Thank you for your email. I am glad that you thought to contact us in regards to food and diet as a cancer risk factor.

The Victorian Cancer Registry (VCR) has collected population-based cancer data over many years. It holds a large and valuable research dataset, which plays a vital role in providing cancer information to individuals and organisations. Although our most recent publication of results ‘Cancer In Victoria: Statistics and Trends 2014’ provides a cancer incidence and mortality overview, as well as a breakdown of cancer survival and cancer projections, it does not have specific statistics around cancer incidence in meat-eaters compared to non-meat eaters. If you are still interested in having a look at this publication, please see

Although there are some sources that report a link between eating red meat and breast cancer, there is no credible evidence to prove this association. However, eating red meat and in particular processed meat (cured with the addition of preservatives and/or other additives) does appear to be associated with a modest increased risk of bowel cancer. Despite some concerns about meat and cancer, Cancer Council recognises that lean red meat is an important source of dietary iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and protein in the Australian diet.

Cancer Council recommends:

  • Only earing moderate amounts of red meat: 65-100g of cooked red meat, no more than 3-4 times a week
  • Limiting consumption of processed meats – such as salami, frankfurts, bacon and ham – which are high in fat and sodium
  • Avoiding burnt or charred meat


Although we cannot give you specific statistics as requested, you may be interested in The Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study run by Cancer Council Victoria. It is a study working with over 50,000 Australians to investigate the causes of cancer and other diseases. This study investigates the role that our genes, lifestyle and environment play in the development of diseases to better understand the way that they can be treated or prevented.

The ABC Study collects information that will aim to further develop ways of predicting an individual’s risk of cancer, it will also refine evaluation of various cancer prevention strategies and the benefits they offer.

The study is a long term study, tracking the health of Australians over a number of years, and building a large set of health related information essential for making breakthroughs in the prevention of cancer and other diseases.

The ABC Study is open to Australian residents, aged 40-74 years of age, who have never been diagnosed with cancer (besides non-melanoma skin cancers). The study commenced in November 2014. For more information, you may see the website or email .

I hope that this information has been of some assistance to you. Please do not hesitate to contact the Cancer Information and Support Team on 13 11 20 (for the cost of a local call) and speak with an experienced cancer nurse. Our lines are open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and we would warmly welcome your call.

Kind regards,

Example C: Suspicious Symptoms


Original Enquiry:
Country: Sri Lanka

Type of cancer asking about: Breast cancer

Situation best describes you: I’ve lost someone to cancer

Question Category: Other



I stopped breast feeding when my baby was 2years 6months. Now she turned three years November 2015. After stop feeding also there were milk on both breasts.  I did not get any medication stop breast milk. Milk flow stopped After 45 days since I stopped breast feeding, I felt breast soreness recently & that area on left breast is bit firm than right breast. My GP did two ultrasounds on both breasts before three months & recently. All reports came out normal.

but I recently heard from one my friend it causes breast cancers on some women as do not express left breast milks when child completely stop drinking. I want to know that this is true or not.



Nurse Response:

Thank you for your email enquiry. I am sorry to read that you have lost a loved one to cancer before. I hope that you were well supported by your family and friends during this difficult time. I am glad that you thought to contact us for some more information about breast cancer.


The signs and symptoms of breast cancer can include:

  • A lump, lumpiness or thickening
  • Changes to the nipple such as a change in shape or a nipple that turns inwards when it used

to stick out

  • Changes to the skin of the breast such as unusual redness
  • An increase or decrease in the size of the breast
  • A change to the shape of the breast
  • Swelling or discomfort in the armpit
  • Persistent unusual pain that is not related to your normal monthly menstrual cycle, and

Remains after a period and occurs in one breast only


There is no scientific evidence that shows milk left in the breasts when you stop breastfeeding will cause breast cancer. After breastfeeding finishes, your milk supply will gradually decrease. I am glad to hear you have seen your GP about your concerns, and have had two normal ultrasounds on your breasts. If you have further concerns or issues about your breasts or other health, I would encourage you to see your GP for medical advice again.


I hope that this email has been of some help to you. If you would like to speak with an experienced cancer nurse about any of the above information, you may contact our Cancer Information and Support Service 13 11 20 (for the cost of a local call). Our lines are open from Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm.


Kind regards,



Gratitude response received:
Thanks a lot for your sympathy & kindness on behalf of my family. It was my father.

Actually I did not expect this kind of a helpful mail. I thought I would get short mail as normally we get from other services like this.

This helped me a lot & reduced my stress too.

Thanks & regards.


Example D: Clinical Trial enquiry

*Demographics not captured as person emailed the service directly, rather than through the web-form
Good morning.


I was looking thru your website in relation to trials for glioblastoma grade IV, my wife was diagnosed with this type of tumour back in August 20015. Since then she has had two operations to removed what they could, has been thru radiation combined with chemo and is now half way thru chemo alone but unfortunately the tumour is still continuing to grow and last week the surgeon gave my wife about two months to live. This week we have an appointment with the chemo oncologist to decide if we continue with chemo.


Is there any sort of trial that could be of some benefit to my wife and others with your research and trials.


History of what happened to my wife.


Life was going fine until my wife collapsed behind the wheel of her car and was taken to hospital where scans revealed a mass at the back R/H/S of her head. She was transferred to St Vincent’s private hospital and had two operation to remove the tumour. After that we returned home and was placed under the care of the William Buckland cancer centre at Traralgon (about 70 kms from home) and had radiation/chemo which finished late Oct 15. In Nov she started her 6 months of chemo but MRI’s taken in back in Dec and the latest one in late Jan has shown it has taken off again and she was having trouble with bad headaches. She is currently taking anti-inflammatory medication and strong pain killers to give her some quality of life.


Nurse Response:
Thank you for your email about your wife. I am so sorry to read of this incidental finding of her advanced glioblastoma. I can imagine that hearing about her car accident must have been so frightening, not to mention the unfortunate news that followed. I am sorry to read that her surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy has not been as effective as we had hoped. I am glad that you thought to contact us for some information regarding clinical trials.


Firstly, I have attached our factsheet called ‘Caring for Someone with A Brain Tumour’ for you in case you have not seen it and would like to have a read. It helps to explain some of the behavioural and physical changes that a brain tumour can cause, as well as some useful strategies for coping. I hope that it will have some benefit to your caring experience.


I understand that the main purpose of your email was ask about any clinical trials that your wife could be eligible for. I would like to let you know about The Victorian Cancer Trials Link (VCTL), a searchable database of all cancer clinical trials being conducted in Victoria. It is relatively easy to navigate through this website. By entering in your Wife’s basic demographics, the site will give you a list of all the clinical trials recruiting in Victoria that are appropriate to her specific diagnosis and treatment situation.


I would also encourage you to talk to your Wife’s treating oncologist about your interest in clinical trials for her. They will be the best person to speak with regarding participation in a clinical trial, and may be aware of the most current studies being undertaken that are most suitable to your Wife’s current situation. If there are any clinical trials that may be appropriate for your Wife, questions to ask may include:

  • What would my Wife have to do as part of this clinical trial?
  • What are the possible side-effects?
  • What are the benefits and risks for my Wife?
  • How are these studies important for my Wife or others?


I have also attached our resource called ‘Understanding Clinical Trials and Research’ for your reference, and to aid you and your family’s understanding of clinical trials.


As you may be aware, clinical trials have strict eligibility criteria in order to make the results as specific as possible. Our VCTL website has general information about trials that may be helpful for you to read


I would also like to take this opportunity to let you know about community palliative care in case you have not been informed of it. Palliative care helps people living with serious illnesses that are likely to shorten their life. Community palliative care offers expert care in your home to help relieve your Wife’s symptoms and promote quality of life. Palliative care is provided by a group of health professionals who work together to meet her needs, such as a GP, specialist doctors, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, spiritual carers, and volunteers to name a few. To find out more information, you can speak with a social worker or GP, or you may like to contact Palliative Care Victoria directly by phone on (03) 9662 9644 or email


There is also support out there for people living with brain tumours. We can put you or your Wife in touch with Cancer Support Groups or Telephone Support Groups which may provide some emotional support for your family during this challenging time. If you are interested in any of these support services, please do not hesitate to call the Cancer Information and Support Service on 13 11 20 (for the cost of a local call) to get more information and contact details. Our lines are open Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm. I hope this information has been helpful to you.


Warm regards,



Gratitude response received:
Thank you so much for your reply, we will ask our chemo oncologist this week during our appointment.


Example E: Treatment decisions

Country: Australia
Type of cancer asking about: Prostate Cancer

Situation best describes you: Family Member

Question Category: Treatment


Hi, my 72 year old father has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Dad is healthy in every other way and is currently reviewing treatment options as to whether he has radioactive seed implantation or prostate surgery. Presently he is leaning heavily towards the radiotherapy but I wanted to attend his next specialist appointment as the information we are getting from mum and dad differs in relation to success rates etc… I think they were just a little overwhelmed and I want to make sure they have all the information. Can you please direct me to where I can get further information and also some of the questions I should ask the specialist to guide dad in making the best decision for him. Thank you very much


Nurse Response:
Thank you for your email. I am very sorry to read that your father has been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. I can understand that his diagnosis must have come as a big shock for you and your family especially if you father is so fit and healthy otherwise. I am very glad that you have thought to email us for some information and advice about his treatment options.


Firstly, I have attached our booklet called ‘Understanding Prostate Cancer’ just in case you have not yet received it. This booklet may be very useful for you and your parents as it explains what prostate cancer is, the different stages of prostate cancer and also the different treatments that are currently used.


A prostatectomy is a surgical procedure that it used to remove the whole prostate. It is used to treat prostate cancer when the cancer is in the early stages and has not spread outside of the prostate to other parts of the body. There are a few different techniques used to undertake this surgery which are detailed in the booklet. This is a major surgery and has a recovery period of 2 to 6 weeks. The potential side effects of this treatment are urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, infertility and penile shortening.


Radioactive seed insertion is a type of radiotherapy which is also called brachytherapy.  A number of radioactive seeds are surgically inserted into the prostate which slowly release radiation to damage the cancer cells in the prostate. This procedure is generally done in a couple of hours as a day procedure. This procedure may cause some pain, pain on urination, poor urine flow, some bladder irritation and there is a risk of impotence. Your father’s doctors should be able to provided more specific information about how they would expect your father to recover after both of these treatments and the side effects to be expected.


Through our Cancer Connect program, you or your father can talk to someone who understands what you’re going through and knows what it’s like to have cancer affect their life and their loved ones. A volunteer who has been through a prostatectomy and/or radioactive seed implantation in the past can give you or your father a call at home when it’s convenient. Our volunteer can speak with you about their treatment and the side effects they experienced. All of our volunteers are trained and supported by our staff to offer emotional and practical support. This support may also help your father make an informed decision about his treatment. I have attached a Cancer Connect brochure to this email for your interest. Please call the Cancer Information and Support Service on 13 11 20 (for the cost of a local call) if you would like to speak with an experienced cancer nurse wo can arrange this for you or alternatively click on the following link to access this service online


I have also attached our factsheet called ‘Questions to Ask your Doctor’ which you may like to bring along with you to your father’s appointment. You may also like to write down some questions you would like to ask and bring them with you to the appointment.


It can be quite overwhelming when someone you love has cancer, especially when that someone is a parent. I can understand that you may be experiencing a range of different emotions at this time including anger, fear, sadness and loneliness.  We have information on being a carer for someone going through cancer that you or your mother may find relevant and helpful to you during this time. You can view this on our website  or alternatively you can call the Cancer Information and Support Service on 13 11 20 and we can post you our booklet called ‘Caring for Someone with Cancer’


I hope that this information is of some help to you and parents. Please do not hesitate to call the Cancer Information and Support Service on 13 11 20 (for the cost of a local call) if you would like to speak with an experienced cancer nurse about any of the information above. Our lines are open from Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm. We would most welcome your call.


Warm regards,


Gratitude response received:
thanks so much for your detailed response it is exactly what i was looking for and very helpful. I will have a chat to my dad and contact the Council again to access the support services do a great job. Thanks again for your support.


Example F: Practical Issues – Travel Insurance

Country: Australia
Type of cancer asking about: Metastatic breast cancer
Situation that best describes you: Patient
Question Category: Other

Diagnosed 18months ago, have had chemo and some palliative radiotherapy. Currently being treated with hormones and pain relief. l have been advised that l will not be able to get travel insurance for overseas travel. Do you know if this is true. l am hoping to do a short carribean cruise, maybe 20 days or so. So it would mean flying as well. This is obviously not a medical question, but not sure where to go before calling around to insurances companies. thank you for any help you may be able to provide.

Nurse Response:
Thank you for your email. I am sorry to read that you have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I hope that you have lost of family and friends supporting you though this difficulty time. I am very glad that you have thought to email us for some information about travel insurance for your upcoming cruise.

Travel insurance  

Travel insurance can be a major concern for people who have cancer or who have had cancer. Travel insurance plans can include:

  • basic plans, which cover lost luggage, theft and cancelled flights
  • broader plans, which also cover overseas medical expenses, loss of income due to injury or
    illness, and death or disability cover.


  • Shop around – the terms and conditions may vary depending on your condition and the
    insurer’s guidelines.
  • Consider applying for a basic policy that excludes cancer treatment.
  • Check if there is a reciprocal health care agreement between Australia and the country you are visiting. This agreement allows Australians to get necessary treatment in eligible countries.
  • Some credit cards offer free travel insurance without exclusions. You may have to use your card to pay for some or all of the trip to qualify. Remember to read the fine print.

Travel Insurance companies that are most likely to cover are

Sure Save  Phone: 1300 787 376

Cover-More  Phone: 1300 72 88 22

Columbus Direct Phone: 1300 669 999

CGU Insurance  Phone: 13 24 81

World Assist  Phone: 03 9757 8181

Insure and Go

Phone: 1300 550 396

You will also need to check with your doctors that you are fit enough to fly and go on a cruise for 20 days if you have not already. Unfortunately as you have heard it can be hard to find an insurance company that will issue travel insurance for people who have cancer. John Berrill from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers has prepared some information for the Chronic Illness Alliance about this issue which you can read by clicking on the following link: You can also call John Berrill directly for free advice on 1800 810 812 if you are having difficulty getting insurance cover. I have also attached our factsheet called ‘Travel Insurance and Cancer’ to this email which may also be of some use to you.

I hope this information has been useful. I wish you all the best for your upcoming trip. If you have any further questions or concerns, you can call the Cancer Information and Support Service on 13 11 20 (for the cost of a local call) where you can speak with an experienced cancer nurse. Our lines are open form Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm.

Warm regards,

Gratitude response received:
Thank you so much for taking the time to look into this matter for me, this info is so helpful and l am extremely grateful. I will start calling around next week and see how l go.

I feel very lucky to have so much assistance from all the cancer organisations and institutions that l have had the need to contact, and once again your help is invaluable.

Example G: Support Services Enquiry – employee diagnosed with cancer
*Demographics not captured as person emailed the service directly, rather than through the web-form

Good afternoon

We currently have an employee who has terminal cancer and has very little time left. This is likely to impact a number of our staff significantly and I’m just wondering if the Cancer Council has any resource available to deal with such situations in the workplace?

We currently have an employee assistance program and I will be discussing with them but any further assistance we can obtain would be greatly appreciated.

Nurse Response:
Thank you for your email. I am sorry to read that one of your employees has terminal cancer and has very little time left. Hearing the news that someone close to you has a terminal illness is very difficult. I can understand that this must be a very challenging time for both you and your colleagues. I am glad that you have though to email us for some information and support.

It is great to read that you have an Employee Assistance Program available at your workplace I think that promoting this service and reminding your colleagues that they can access this service for support is certainly a great idea.

I am not sure from the information that you have provided that your employees are aware of the situation or if you have not informed them as yet. I would suggest if your employee who has cancer is happy for everyone to be informed you may think about having an informal meeting to inform them of the situation in a gentle manner. Often being honest about how sad and devastating the news is for you and your workplace can help everyone come together and support one another through this difficult time. This may also be an appropriate time to remind everyone about the Employee Assistance Program. Having open communication about the situation can help create a more supportive environment for everybody.

Some employees may be more distressed than others or if the news is going to be a big shock to them. Anyone affected by cancer is welcome to call the Cancer Information and Support Service on 13 11 20 (for the cost of a local call) if they would like to speak with an experienced cancer nurse.

I am not sure of how close some of the employees are with your employee who is unwell but it may be good to organize a gift for the family for example flowers or a food hamper. You may like to send this to the family to let them know all of you at work are thinking of them at this difficult time. If there are employees that are closer with this person they may like to visit them if they are at home or in hospital. Others may like to write them a card, letter or send them a text or social media message. This is a very personal thing and everyone is different in how they deal with things. Sometimes people with advanced cancer can feel isolated from friends and extended family members because often people do not know what to say or what to do so they avoid the person which can sometimes be distressing for them. If you are in contact with your employee and their family this will help you judge what may be appropriate for them.

Beyond Blue have a free telephone support service to support people going through a difficult time in their life. Beyond Blue’s contact number is 1300 224 636 and there are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement Counselling and Support Service provides support to people who may need assistance following the death of someone close to them. They offer support in many different ways such as one to one counselling with as specialist counsellor, face to face support groups and telephone support groups. Here is a link to their website where you can read more about the services that they offer   You can contact the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement by phoning (03) 9265 2100 or emailing  . The Bereavement Counselling and Support Service is located at 253 Wellington Road, Mulgrave, Victoria 3170.

I hope that the information above is of some help to you and your staff. Please do not hesitate to call the Cancer Information and Support Service on 13 11 20 (for the cost of a local call) if you would like to speak with an experienced cancer nurse more personally. Our lines are open from Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm.

Warm regards,

Gratitude response received:
Thank you so much for your assistance, and thoughts. It’s very much appreciated.

Example H: Chemo side effects – risk to kids
*Demographics not captured as person emailed the service directly, rather than through the web-form

Just wondering if you can tell me if there are any health risks to small children being around someone who is receiving treatment for cancer?

Today my husband and I as well as our two small children went to look at a relocatable cabin to buy.  The owner showed us through the cabin and we were there for about an hour talking with him.  Towards the end of our visit the poor man started to tell us that he has terminal cancer which I think he said started in his stomach and has now spread to other organs of his body including his liver or kidneys.  He said his chemo has been doubled (I’m not sure if he mentioned radio therapy at all) and that he’ll be ecstatic if he lives another five years.  At about this time, I’m ashamed to say, because I was so concerned about my children being harmed at all  I bundled them into the car and we left a short time later.

I’ve been worrying ever since about the kids because I’ve heard that children (especially small children) can be harmed by being near people receiving chemotherapy and radio therapy in some circumstances.  Is this true?

Would appreciate your input.
Nurse Response:
Thank you for your email. I am glad that you have thought to email us for some information about cancer and health risks to children.

Some people worry about the safety of their friends and family members during chemotherapy treatment. The chemotherapy won’t harm them as long as they don’t have any direct contact with the chemotherapy drugs. However, if people without cancer come into direct contact with chemotherapy drugs, they may be harmed.

After someone has had chemotherapy, the drugs may remain in their body for up to a week after treatment. This depends on the types of drugs used. It is possible for the drugs to be passed into urine, stools and other body fluids such as saliva, vomit, semen and breast milk. Care needs to be taken that friends and family members are not exposed to the drugs through contact with their body fluids.

External radiotherapy does not make you radioactive because the radiation doesn’t stay in the body. It is safe for someone having radiotherapy to be with children, family, friends, and anyone that may be pregnant. This includes throughout the course of treatment and afterwards.

I hope that this information is of some help to you and I have answered your question about cancer and health risks to children. Please do not hesitate to call the Cancer Information and Support Service on 13 11 20 (for the cost of a local call) if you would like to speak with an experienced cancer nurse about any of the information above. Our lines are open from Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm.

Warm regards,

Gratitude response received:
Thanks Erin.  I think I was worrying for nothing.  You have eased my mind. Thank you.