Canadian Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Service Reaches Milestone, Answers One Million Inquiries Since 1996

04 August 2011

Halifax -

At his wife’s insistence, Lower Sackville’s Gary Thorne made an appointment to see his doctor about a mole on his shoulder that she was concerned about. This was one routine doctor’s appointment that might just have saved his life. When the biopsy results came back and Mr. Thorne heard the word melanoma it was difficult to make sense of what else the doctor said. “When I was diagnosed with melanoma I knew very little about the disease and what this could mean for me and my family,” says Mr. Thorne. “I really didn’t know what to expect but I had a lot of questions. Were there different types of melanoma? What could my treatment be?”

After a conversation with an information specialist to discuss what melanoma was, treatment options, side effects and follow-up care for melanoma, Mr. Thorne felt a bit more comfortable about the road ahead of him. "After speaking with somebody about my diagnosis I felt that I knew more about what to expect and what kind of questions to ask my own doctors,” says Mr. Thorne. “I started to sleep better too.”

Fear, anxiety, helplessness, anger – these are some of the often-overwhelming feelings that people can face when dealing with cancer. Canadians have a lot of questions about cancer, from prevention to screening to diagnosis right through treatment and beyond. That’s where the Cancer Information Service comes in. The highly trained information specialists who answer the phone are experts at listening and empathizing while providing accurate and up-to-date information about all aspects of dealing with cancer. Many callers don’t want to bother their doctors or family members with their questions and worries, and they appreciate a caring and informed voice. Often the calls are from family members and other caregivers who need someone to talk to.

Since 1996, the Cancer Information Service has been providing Canadians with friendly, accurate and prompt support and information about cancer. This year, the Cancer Information Service marks its one-millionth inquiry.

“The Cancer Information Service offers an invaluable service to Nova Scotians who are dealing with cancer and everything that entails,” says Kelly Wilson, Community Engagement Manager, Canadian Cancer Society, Nova Scotia Division. “As Nova Scotians, we have among the highest rates of many cancers in the country. We know there are an incredible number of individuals requiring this type of support in our province and we are very pleased to offer this important service. CIS can provide information about everything from local prosthesis suppliers to cutting edge clinical trials.”

What is the Cancer Information Service?

The Cancer Information Service is a free, national, bilingual, toll-free service that provides comprehensive and credible information about cancer and community resources to cancer patients, their families, the general public and healthcare professionals in a personalized, confidential and timely manner. The phone service is also available to Canadians in many other languages through interpreters.

Who takes the inquiries?

Cancer information specialists are available to answer inquiries 5 days a week, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., year-round by phone and by e-mail. These specialists are highly trained and have many resources available to them so they can answer most questions immediately. They also send information to clients by mail or e-mail and frequently make follow-up calls based on their conversations.

What types of questions does the Cancer Information Service respond to?

Information specialists answer questions about:

  • all types of cancer
  • cancer treatment and side effects
  • clinical trials
  • coping with cancer
  • emotional support services
  • prevention
  • help in the community
  • complementary and alternative therapies

Some inquiries the Cancer Information Service has responded to:

  • “I have noticed pain in my breast for about the last 3 weeks. I’m worried that this might be cancer.”
  • “I had radiation therapy for lung cancer. I’m feeling quite tired and I wonder how long I’m going to feel this way.”
  • “Someone came to my door from the Canadian Cancer Society and I wanted to make sure you are canvassing right now.”
  • “I am 70 years old and when I went for my physical my doctor said I don’t need a Pap test anymore. Is this right?”
  • “I saw a piece on TV last night saying that dogs could sniff out cancer. Have you heard about that?”
  • “I was diagnosed with cancer just recently. I have 3 teenagers and I haven’t told them about it yet. Can you help me figure out what to say?”

When will the millionth inquiry be received?

The Cancer Information Service received its one-millionth inquiry on July 8, 2011.

How can I reach the Cancer Information Service?

Call toll-free 1 888 939-3333 or by e-mail
TTY 1 886 786-3934

The service is available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in English and French and in 140 other languages through interpreters.

 Learn more about the Canadian Cancer Society's Support Services

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Jane Wilson


Phone: (902) 423-6183