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Release: Nov. 1, 2002

UI Cancer Information Service marks 15 years of providing cancer information

For the past 15 years, the Cancer Information Service (CIS), part of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa, has been providing patients, health care providers and the general public with answers to their cancer-related questions with the latest information on research and treatment.

Cancer information specialists are available at the nationwide toll-free CIS number, (800) 237-1225, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Questions may also be submitted via e-mail at or via an online form at

As part of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, the CIS offers many free services to the state of Iowa and to contacts worldwide. CIS provides personalized and confidential responses to questions about cancer, over 500 free pamphlets and educational literature from national cancer organizations, and research from medical journals, the World Wide Web and national databases.

"When someone has cancer, it's important for them to understand their disease and treatment," said Joan Felkner, CIS information specialist. "We make sure that contacts have up-to-date, accurate information so that they can receive the best care possible."

The CIS also provides information on cancer prevention, risk factors, symptoms, early detection, treatment, coping skills, an online cancer support group, statistics and county resources for cancer patients in Iowa and Illinois.

The service is unique from other information services in that CIS information specialists find information specifically for contacts and carry literature from all the major nationwide cancer organizations, Felkner said.

The CIS was created in 1987 as an educational outreach of the cancer center to serve Iowa and western Illinois. In 1990, it launched a nationwide toll-free number, and in 1999 it became a worldwide service through the Web.

"We were originally designed as a resource for Iowans, but we answer questions from anyone," Felkner said. "No one ever goes away without an answer of some kind."

On average, the CIS receives 30-35 phone calls and one or two e-mails per day.

In its 15 years, the CIS has fielded questions from 82,698 phone, Web and walk-in contacts. Contacts have come from every Iowa county, all 50 states, two U.S. territories and 35 countries. Including conferences and hospital clinics, the CIS has distributed more than 1.4 million pieces of literature.

In 2001 alone, the CIS Web site received almost 30,000 hits.

"The CIS is central to our ability to take advances in cancer biology and cancer medicine and make them available to the people we serve," said George Weiner, M.D., director of the UI Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center and the C.E. Block Professor of Cancer Research. "This is a critical part of our mission as Iowa's only comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute."

CIS information specialists do not make medical recommendations, but respond to general questions about cancer. When not answering questions, the specialists gather information for health care providers and other contacts, and study new developments in cancer research. The CIS also helps with clinical trials and is active on committees within the cancer center.

The CIS has recently received new resources from the National Cancer Institute, including the "Facing Forward" series of literature, focusing on life after cancer treatment and ways to make a difference in cancer. There is also a new series focusing on clinical trials and also on cancer prevention. The CIS has written many of its own pamphlets, as well.

The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI serves health care providers and Iowa citizens through high-quality cancer-related research, education and health care. The center includes faculty and staff from 38 departments in six UI colleges and from UI Hospitals and Clinics.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.