Communicating With Family & Friends

People who have cancer may find it difficult to communicate about their illness, but talking about it can make it easier to cope.

Talking With Children and Grandchildren About Cancer

People talking with their children or grandchildren about a pancreatic cancer diagnosis should consider their ages (young, teenager, or adult) and their relationship with them. Keep in mind that children talk to each other, too. It’s best for adults to decide what and how much to say to children so that they don’t misunderstand or get confused.

Get tips, guidelines, and suggestions for talking with young and adult children and grandchildren.

Or, here are some ideas on talking with teenagers and adult children. These links are to third-party websites.

When Treatment Is a Family Decision

A person with pancreatic cancer may have more than one option for treating the disease and it can sometimes be difficult to choose a path forward. He or she may reach out to family members to ask for opinions and advice. But what if the family members disagree with each other? Or with the patient?

These situations can stir emotion and create conflict, and it may become hard to communicate with each other.

Read guidelines and tips for keeping the lines of communication open when family members disagree. This link is to a third-party website.

Tips for Talking to Someone With Cancer

At times it may be difficult to know what to say to someone with cancer. See below for a quick guide on what or what not to do.


  • pretend everything is okay
  • ignore them
  • preach or ask too many questions
  • comment on their physical appearance


  • think before speaking
  • let the patient set the tone for communicating
  • listen to what they’re saying
  • show kindness
  • be positive

Read more communication tips at, the website of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). This link is to a third-party website.