Cancer Happens

A cancer risk reduction program that empowers teens to change their health trajectory

What is Cancer Happens®?

Cancer Happens engages, educates, and empowers teens to adopt healthy habits to reduce their risk of cancer and improve their health. Working with educators and counselors, we create safe spaces for youth to learn about cancer and how they can reduce their future risk of cancer. 

How is Cancer Happens taught?

We make it easy for educators to access our materials so that they can be presented to youth in an engaging and informative way.

  • e-Learning Courses: We currently have two courses available. The first is adapted from our in-person classroom presentation of Cancer Happens, which has been provided to over 100,000 students since 2005. The second course is brand-new and presents facts on the harmful effects of vaping and e-cigarettes.
  • Guest Speaker Presentation: Cancer Pathways’ health educators  present Cancer Happens to students in-person or via a virtual platform for 45 minutes, bringing new, distance-learning opportunities to teachers and classrooms, increasing active learning and student engagement.

Cancer Happens curriculum aligns with National Health Education Standards. We cover:

  • Basic cancer facts that all teens should know
  • Cancer risk factors
  • Empowering steps that teens can take to reduce their risk of cancer
  • Topics include: HPV-associated cancers and specific cancers that can impact teens (e.g., skin cancer, testicular cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer)
  • How to support their friends or family members impacted by cancer
  • Where teens can access more information on cancer resources

How do I access Cancer Happens?

You can be a teacher, a parent, a youth leader, health educator, or teen–we are happy to assist you with access to Cancer Happens. Simply fill out this registration form or email us with your question.

Students report increased:

  • Baseline knowledge of cancer, risk factors and protective factors
  • Connection and support for teens impacted by cancer
  • Awareness of resources for preventative screening, smoking/vaping cessation, immunizations, tips for healthy living
  • Social impact through our community engagement programs (Teen Ambassadors, Teen writing contest)

Teens report intent to:

  • Reduce tobacco and vape use
  • Increase physical activity
  • Perform self-exams
  • Improve nutrition
  • Practice Sun Safety
  • Take HPV protective measures

Additional Support and Opportunities for Teens

After a classroom presentation, many teens choose to stay engaged with Cancer Pathways. We offer several ways for teens to connect with other teens:

Additional Support for Educators

Cancer Pathways staff is available to ensure easy access to online learning, assist with the design and development of sample lesson plans, and provide additional support and resources.

Why we need to talk about cancer in schools

Hear what teachers and students have to say about Cancer Happens

Frequently Asked Questions

I am interested in presenting Cancer Happens at my college/university, high school, middle school, or youth organization. Is training available?

Yes. If you are interested in presenting Cancer Happens or would like to learn more about how to engage teens about this topic, please contact us. Cancer Pathways trains a variety of professionals about how to educate, engage, and empower teens effectively on cancer risk reduction and how to support others who have been affected by cancer. We welcome the opportunity to partner with you in reaching youth in your local community.

Where has Cancer Happens been presented?

We began our in-person classroom presentations in Washington state high schools and middle schools. In recent years, Cancer Happens expanded into youth organizations, middle schools and high schools in South Carolina and Georgia. In 2020, we enhanced our program materials, including our e-Learning platform and live virtual presentation so that we can reach teens anywhere in the U.S.