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Online course

Talking About Cancer

Gain the tips, tools and confidence to talk about cancer prevention with this free online course from Cancer Research UK.


  • Access to the course for its length + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • No certificate


  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Talking About Cancer

Why join the course?

Talking about cancer can be tough. You might be worried that you’ll say the wrong thing or that you simply don’t know enough about the subject. Perhaps you feel unsure about how the conversation will go or you’ve tried in the past and had a difficult experience. Maybe you’re not even sure if it’s your job.

In this course, you’ll learn how to encourage people to make healthy lifestyle changes, access local services or visit their doctor promptly if they notice changes to their body. You’ll develop a personal plan for talking about cancer and where to find reliable information.

1 in 2 people will develop cancer in their lifetime, and at Cancer Research UK we think it’s essential to get people talking about the disease. This course will give you the tips, tools and confidence to have simple, effective conversations that could help save lives.

Learn with experts from Cancer Research UK

The course team will be active in the comments for the first three weeks of the next run of the course starting on 5 June. If you’d like to join then, please sign up.

The course draws on the knowledge of experts from Cancer Research UK, led by Cancer Awareness Trainers with a wealth of experience talking to people about preventing cancer and noticing signs and symptoms. You will meet people with first-hand experience of talking about cancer, listen in on successful and unsuccessful role-playing conversations, and learn best practices.

The conversations in the course focus on prevention and early diagnosis, but the cancer information and conversation tips and tools may also be helpful for talking to cancer patients and their families and friends.

Build up confidence to talk about cancer

This free online course will help you:

  • understand the facts
  • develop your approach
  • share good practice
  • and build your confidence

Over the course of 3 weeks, we will equip you with tips and tools to talk about cancer facts and prevention without feeling embarrassed or awkward, enabling you to make a real difference to people’s lives.

What learners who have previously taken part in the course said:

“I really appreciated the breadth and depth of information, and the videos neatly brought concepts to life.”

“I feel more informed and confident now to start up a discussion on cancer or any other difficult issue.”

Download video: standard or HD

What topics will you cover?

  • Key facts and health messages about cancer prevention, screening and early diagnosis, and how to explain them.
  • Confidence for having conversations about cancer that help others take positive action.
  • Identification of barriers to making lifestyle changes or seeing a doctor.
  • Communication methods that overcome barriers and avoid building defensiveness and fear.
  • Methods of questioning that help people make decisions for themselves.
  • Identifying how our own feelings can affect conversations.
  • Directing people to the right places for advice and support.
  • Creating an action plan for talking about cancer.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

  • To have the tips, tools and confidence to engage members of the public in meaningful conversations about cancer
  • To be aware of the key facts about cancer and be able to explain these to members of the public
  • Identify and deal effectively with barriers and challenges to meaningful conversations
  • Explain and direct people to the right places for support, and encourage practical action

Who is the course for?

This course is suitable for anyone with an interest in talking about cancer and can help with conversations about health with family, friends and colleagues. It focuses on facts and myths about cancer, and how to talk to people about prevention. It may be of special interest to anyone working or volunteering in health or in their community.

The course does not require any previous experience of this subject.

Who will you learn with?

Gillian Kilgour

Gill has been a nurse for 30 years, with a variety of experience in the cancer field. Gill joined Cancer Research UK in 2009, and is now one of the Lead Cancer Awareness Trainers at the charity.

Gwen Kaplan

Gwen trained as a nurse, working in a variety of settings with cancer patients before joining Cancer Research UK in 1998 on the Nurse Helpline. Gwen works as a Lead Cancer Awareness Trainer.

Who developed the course?

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) are the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript £59.00

Statement of Participation £39.00

Estimate prices in preferred currency

Charges to your account will be made in GBP. Prices in local currency are provided as a convenience and are only an estimate based on current exchange rates.