The National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service: a premiere cancer information and education resource for the nation

Mary Anne Bright
Journal of Cancer Education: the Official Journal of the American Association for Cancer Education 2007, 22 (1 Suppl): S2-7
Through the National Cancer Act and its amendments (National Cancer Act, 1971; National Cancer Act Amendments, 1974), the U.S. Congress mandated that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) - the nation's lead agency for cancer information and research - provides accurate, up-to-date information about cancer to all segments of the U.S. population. In 1975, the NCI established the Cancer Information Service (CIS), a premieer resource for providing cancer information and education to the nation. The CIS is designed to maximize reach to the public by responding to the cancer needs of clients through several communication technologies, including a telephone service, e-mail, and real-time instant messaging. By offering cancer information to the public through one-on-one interactions with CIS information specialists, the CIS is in a unique position to fill the gap that lies between the preferred, interpersonal source of the health care provider and the actual, impersonal Internet. Cancer Information Service can play an important role in providing health care practitioners, health departments, caregivers, and researchers with up-to-date and accurate information about cancer and clinical trials. Currently, 10% of CIS callers are health professionals. Referring patients to the CIS can augment health practitioners' ability to convey important health information to patients. The CIS program uses NCI resources to educate clients on cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and rehabilitation and smoking cessation in simple terms that they can understand. Additionally, the CIS works with organizations to develop educational programs and interventions to reach underserved populations. A unique component of this information and education program is its ability to contribute to the field of health communications research by collaborating in research studies throughout the U.S. Finally, since its inception in 1975, the CIS has assisted international organizations with starting a cancer information service and as such is seen as a "stem cell" from which many international CIS programs have derived.

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