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History of the Cancer Information Service.

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  • 1Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center, New Haven, CT 06510.


The Cancer Information Service (CIS) was established on July 1, 1975, following the mandate of the National Cancer Act of 1971 giving the National Cancer Institute (NCI) new responsibilities for educating the public, patients, and health professionals. Funded under a contract mechanism, the CIS has become one of the longest-running community programs in NCI. The CIS has been able to set up and maintain high-quality service, giving accurate, up-to-date medical information to cancer patients and their families and friends, to health professionals, and to the general public. The CIS network, which has taken more than 5 million calls since its inception, has weathered many changes, both at the national and the local level. Its current call volume, in excess of 500,000 calls per year, makes it one of the most heavily utilized health-related telephone helplines in the country. Using a standardized Call Record Form, data on calls have been recorded consistently since 1983; the dataset now contains information on more than 4.2 million calls. An outreach component that acts as NCI's field arm has been part of the CIS since its inception. The CIS has matured into a stable system that has been reconfigured into 19 regional offices, covering the entire country. These offices run the telephone service and serve as NCI's outreach arm, working with intermediaries to carry out NCI information and education programs in local communities.

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