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

04 August 2011

Charlottetown -

A man who had just been diagnosed with melanoma picked up the phone and called the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Service (CIS). “I don’t know what to expect. What should I tell my family?” After several conversations with an information specialist to discuss treatment options, side effects and follow-up care for melanoma, he said, “Thank you for all your help. I’ve started to sleep better after speaking with you.”

A woman anxiously called the Cancer Information Service while undergoing tests for cervical cancer. After a 20-minute conversation with an information specialist, she received information by e-mail on diagnostic tests and different benign and malignant cervical conditions. “The person I spoke to really understood my anxiety. It was nice to have someone to talk to so that I didn’t have to alarm my family during these tests. I’m so happy to have a reliable contact to ask questions between doctor’s appointments.”

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.

Many health professionals think highly of this resource as well. “The Cancer Information Service offers an invaluable service to Canadians who are dealing with cancer and everything that entails,” says Donna Clark, an oncology nurse at Prince County Hospital who regularly refers patients to the service.

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.

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.

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:

Lori Barker

Executive Director

Phone: 902-566-4007