LESSON 1: What Is Cancer?

Time Required: One 40-minute class period

Materials: Worksheet 1, Internet access


1. Distribute Worksheet 1: What Is Cancer? to students. Ask students to think about an experience they have had when they wanted to do something, but were unable to do it because of their health. Example: they had a really bad cold and could not go to a friend’s party. Ask students to write about their experience and share how they felt with the class.

2. Tell students that today they will be talking about a particular type of sickness called cancer. Explain to students that cancer is a group of more than 100 diseases that attack parts of people’s bodies. Assure students that you can’t catch cancer from someone who has the disease. Cancer makes people very sick, but it can be treated with medicine. People who have cancer can still live normal lives.

3. Share with students that there are certain words that are often used when talking about cancer and it's important to understand what these words mean. For each of the following words in bold, pause and discuss the word's usage and meaning.

4. Explain to students that when someone is given the diagnosis (identifying a disease by its signs or symptoms) of cancer, a doctor will try to get rid of the cancer in his or her body. Three common treatments for cancer are chemotherapy (a method that helps kill cancer cells by a doctor's use of drugs or a combination of drugs), radiation  (a method that helps kill cancer cells by using high-energy rays), and surgery (An operation performed in a hospital to remove cancer).

5. Tell students that different types of cancer need different types of treatment (a method by which a doctor will help you to continue to live "normally" with cancer). Also a person may receive just one or two types of treatment or all three. Each person is different, so it is important that cancer patients work with their doctor to find the treatment that is right for them.

6. To help reinforce the lesson vocabulary, instruct students to complete Part 2 of the worksheet. Review answers as a class.


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