Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Cancer Public Service Announcement

Christy Carpenter
Bay District Schools


Students explore the causes and treatments of cancer by developing a Public Service Announcement to share with others.


The student selects and uses a variety of electronic media (such as the Internet, information services, and desktop-publishing software programs) to create, revise, retrieve, and verify information.

The student uses details, illustrations, analogies, and visual aids to make oral presentations that inform, persuade, or entertain.

The student knows oral, written, audio, and visual communication methods to accurately express health messages (eg., through an audiovisual public service announcement).


-Examples of Public Service Announcements
(These can be pamphlets from the health department, videos, TV commercials such as “The More You Know...” series, or radio spots.)
-Health or other textbook/curriculum dealing with cancer
(The health department has many resources available if your curriculum needs supplement.)
-Internet access for students


1. Be familiar with cancer terms and curriculum to be used.
2. Gather examples of Public Service Announcements.
3. Duplicate the rubric for students. (See Associated File)
4. Gather necessary materials.


*Students should have previous knowlege of how to give oral presentations with specific regard to persuasive techniques such as details, illustrations, analogies, and visual aids AND presentation types such as oral, written, audio, and visual.

1. Teach cancer causes and preventions according to your course curriculum. (Another option would be to have the school nurse teach this.) Touch on different types of cancer, including but not limited to: lung cancer (the #1 killer), breast cancer, leukemia, skin cancer, cervical cancer, mouth cancer and colon cancer. Have students suggest what types of cancer they want to know more about. Be sure to touch on causes, initiators and promoters. (Initiator is the force or substance that begins the cancer, a promoter is the force or substance that can cause it to grow more rapidly.) Also touch on the meanings of the following words: metastatize, benign, malignant, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation.

2. During this discussion, have students keep a list of the causes of these types of cancers. When finished, have students look over the list and ask how many of these are lifestyle factors (i.e. factors you can change, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, sun exposure, fatty diets, etc.) Why do you think people still do these harmful things when these things can give them cancer? Maybe they don't know, don't think it can happen to them, don't realize how serious it is. What can we do to help people stop this risky behavior? Lead students to the idea that we can INFORM THEM!!

1. Review what was discussed yesterday. Explain that there is a lot of technology available to inform people and many agencies available whose purpose it is to help people live healthier lives. Explain what a Public Service Announcement (PSA) is.

2. Show some examples of Public Service Announcements.

3. Ask for comments, including eliciting which announcements seem to have the most impact on them and why.

4. Tell students that they are going to create a PSA. Go over the rubric and expectations. (See Associated File) In the first portion of the rubric, point out the four types of presentations and that they need to use all four of them to receive full credit. Provide examples to students in each area. Next, remind students that they will be scored on the accuracy of their content which they get from the electronically collected resources. Go over available resources such as the school library, Internet, health department, school nurse, American Cancer Society, and American Heart Association. Use the American Cancer Society's Website,, as a starting point on the Internet. Last, make sure students are reminded of the persuasive techniques they need to use in their speeches/presentations. Attempt to provide examples of each.

5. Allow students to choose a topic of their choice to do their PSA about.

6. Set a date for the project.

7. Allow at least one more class period for directed research (with Internet access) to be sure they are on the right track. Provide feedback as necessary. Be prepared to make suggestions to keep students on the right track.

8. On the date the project is due, allow students to present their work to the class.

*As an extension, have students post their posters in the lunchroom, broadcast their radio ads over the PA system, or broadcast their TV ads over the closed circuit TV system in your school. Use the pamphlets as teaching tools for other classes, or send them to elementary schools for health educators to use there.


Assess the Public Service Announcements according to the rubric in the associated file. Students who do not meet the criteria or who want to make improvements should be allowed to change the PSA after receiving corrective feedback from peers and the teacher.

The list of resources included with their projects addresses this standard: The student knows resources from home, school and community that provide valid health information. Depending on the curriculum of your district, a minimum number of resources can be required. If this becomes part of the assessment, make sure to share the number with students prior to beginning work on the project.


1. For accelerated students, have them discuss and/or write an essay to answer the following: Recently, there has been a great deal of attention focused on well-known people who have cancer, for example, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and figure skater Mark Hamilton. Do you think the media attention focused on celebrities with cancer has had a positive effect on the public's attitude toward cancer? Why or why not? What could be the drawbacks of such attention?
2. This project can be used with any subject that lends itself to Public Service Announcements, such as social concerns or other health-related issues.

Web Links

Web supplement for Cancer Public Service Announcement

Attached Files

This rubric is used to score the Public Service Announcements.     File Extension: pdf

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.