Knowledge is power in the fight against cancer — Canadian Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Service celebrates milestone: One million Canadians helped!


Fear, anxiety, helplessness, anger – these are some of the often overwhelming feelings that people can encounter when dealing with cancer. When faced with a cancer diagnosis, knowledge is power. The Canadian Cancer Society empowers Canadians with timely cancer information so that people can make informed decisions about their health. Today, the Society’s Cancer Information Service, celebrates helping one million Canadians answer their cancer-related questions.

Since 1996, the free Cancer Information Service has provided information on all types of cancer, diagnostic tests, treatments, side effects, clinical trials and connects people to services available in communities nationwide. Across the country in four call centres, the service employs highly trained teams of cancer information specialists who answer Canadian’s phone calls and e-mails. These staff members are experts at listening and empathizing while providing accurate and up-to-date information about all aspects of dealing with cancer. Many people don’t want to bother their doctors or family members with their questions and worries, and they appreciate a caring and informed voice. Often cancer questions come from family members and other caregivers who need someone to talk to.

Kim McColl of Napanee, Ontario has contacted the service numerous times since receiving a breast cancer diagnosis back in 2007. “The Cancer Information Service is one of the many reasons I think I’m still here,” said McColl. “Their information is accurate and compassionate. They go out of their way to send you more information. Nothing is ever too much trouble.”

Now four years later, the retired music teacher is living cancer-free but side effects of the breast cancer surgery she endured remain. Even now, McColl doesn’t hesitate to call the Cancer Information Service when she has any questions. In June of this year, she contacted the service about lymphedema, a common condition that affects many breast cancer patients and survivors.

“People often feel overwhelmed when dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment,” says Janet MacVinnie who manages the Cancer Information Service in Ontario. “Our Cancer Information Service has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety for patients because the service helps them get a better understanding of their type of cancer, treatment options and find services in their community.” In 2010, the service responded to more than 23,000 phone calls and e-mails in Ontario alone.

Healthcare professionals also use and regularly refer their patients and families to the Cancer Information Service. “At Princess Margaret Hospital, we see over 12,000 new patients per year, each with their own individual informational and language needs. We have come to rely on the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Service as an essential, trusted partner in ensuring our patients and families have access to the right information, at the right time for them, in a way that they can understand,” says Audrey Jusko Friedman, Director, Patient Education Program, University Health Network, Toronto. “We refer people to the Cancer Information Service because we are confident that patients and families will have their questions answered in a timely way, by knowledgeable and caring individuals. Our patients and families tell us about the wonderful support they receive when they contact the service and how grateful they are to have been told about this amazing resource”.

Information is one part of the Canadian Cancer Society’s five commitments in the fight against cancer, other commitments include: research, support services, prevention and advocacy for cancer patients and cancer-related issues. If people have questions about cancer, whether they are a patient, caregiver or member of the public, the Cancer Information Service can help. Call 1 888 939-3333 or e-mail Assistance is available in more than 100 languages through a professional interpreter service. In Ontario there is also an accessible option (1 866 786-3934 TTY) for those who are deaf, deafened and hard of hearing.

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:

Camille Beaubien

Senior Manager, Communications

Phone: 416-323-7181