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Release: Immediate

Cancer center information service offers brochures

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- During the past 11 years the University of Iowa Cancer Information Service (CIS) has fielded more than 50,000 calls from Iowa and across the United States. The CIS has helped distill some of its cancer expertise into four new free brochures that are available to the public.

One booklet, the "Cancer Word List," maps out the abstract language of medicine and provides hundreds of definitions for confusing terminology. Knowing the language used by medical personnel helps patients regain a sense of control under trying circumstances. "The Cancer Word List" provides hundreds of commonly used terms that allow patients to take a more active role in their treatments.

The other booklets are "Cancer Related Fatigue," "Understanding Blood Tests" and "Cancer Prevention: What You Need to Know." This information helps dispel some of the fear cancer patients and their families may face but there are also pragmatic reasons for understanding a diagnosis and the medical jargon.

Information program assistant Joan Felkner said, "Information is real power because more insurance companies are dictating if patients can be hospitalized--the patient needs to know this information because today they share much more responsibility for their own care."

The "Cancer Related Fatigue" publication deals with one of the more debilitating aspects of cancer.

"The booklet deals honestly with what to expect in relation to the physical, mental and spiritual fatigue associated with the disease," Felkner said.

"Understanding Blood Tests" gives a clear and detailed description of the many ways that blood analysis will figure in diagnosis and treatment. "People just want to know what's 'normal,' or how they measure up to 'normal'," Felkner said. "We have also put little extras in, such as what to do to help prevent infection and what to do when your platelet count is low."

The information takes away the helplessness that people often feel when facing cancer. The four booklets provide more rapid access to the information that will help cancer patients and their families understand the diagnosis and medical terms.

"In the old days we had very little information and the model was mostly, 'just trust me.' That doesn't mean people don't trust their doctors but they want to know about specific blood counts, word meanings, what the normal ranges are and how they measure up. The answers often lead to a sense of well-being, and allow patients to recapture a bit of control over the disease.

"The Cancer Information Service has been an important conduit for delivering the cancer

center's information expertise across Iowa and the U.S.," Felkner said. "People often come to me and say, 'I just wanted to hear you say the same thing the doctor said.' It's very reassuring for them and these information packages will just help extend that feedback."

For more information about cancer and the CIS, call 1-800-237-1225