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Questions About Cancer? 1-800-4-CANCER

NCI's Cancer Information Service (CIS)

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What is the NCI's Cancer Information Service?

The National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service (CIS) is a federally funded program that was established in 1975 as an essential part of NCI's cancer education and information efforts. For over 35 years, NCI's CIS has been providing scientifically based, unbiased information to patients, their families and friends, physicians and other health professionals, and the general public about all aspects of cancer including:

  • cancer research and clinical trials
  • cancer prevention
  • risk factors
  • symptoms
  • early detection
  • diagnosis
  • treatment
  • living with cancer
  • quitting smoking

Our information specialists are trained to answer cancer related questions by telephone (1-800-4-CANCER), LiveHelp instant messaging, and e-mail. In addition to answering questions about cancer and clinical trials, the NCI's CIS also operates the NCI's Smoking Quitline (1-877-44U-QUIT) which provides free cessation information and support to smokers who wish to quit. There is no charge or fee for our service. Service is provided in English and Spanish.

NCI's CIS can also answer calls made through a telecommunications relay service (TRS) provider by people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Hours of operation

You can contact us by telephone at 1-800-4-CANCER or 1-877-44U-QUIT Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Both toll free numbers also offer recorded messages on a variety of topics that can be accessed 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

CIS information specialists also offer online assistance Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time through the LiveHelp link on NCI's Web site.

The importance of cancer research and clinical trials

Improvements in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment today are built upon results of previous cancer research and clinical trials. As new approaches and treatments emerge from cancer researchers’ laboratories, they move to testing in clinical trials (research studies with people). Carefully conducted clinical trials are the way in which these new ideas are scientifically tested and evaluated. Such advancements would have been impossible to realize without the participation of many thousands of people over the years.

NCI's CIS is committed to educating people about clinical trials and facilitating their participation whenever possible. We can help identify clinical trials for all aspects of the cancer continuum—from prevention and early detection, to treatment and supportive care. NCI supported trials are available at institutions across the country and at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. NCI encourages clinical trials to be part of the cancer conversation, and considered as a possible option whenever decisions about cancer treatment are being discussed.

NCI's CIS also has a rich history participating in cancer control and health communications research that supports NCI's priorities and programs. We have collaborated on studies that have helped researchers learn better ways to communicate with people about healthy lifestyles, health risks, and how to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer, and contribute to the nation's cancer control efforts.

Publications resulting from CIS research collaborations:

The CIS was the focus of three special journal supplements: