News Releases

Hutchinson Center wins $55.4 million contract to become sole operator of the NCI Cancer Information Service

SEATTLE — Dec. 4, 2009 — The National Cancer Institute has awarded a $55.4 million, multiple-year contract to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to become the nation's sole operator of its Cancer Information Service Contact Center.

The move will create 60 new jobs at the Hutchinson Center – nearly tripling the size of its current CIS workforce – once the consolidated center is fully operational, which is scheduled for March 15, 2010. The Seattle CIS center will remain in its existing location on the Hutchinson Center campus.

The CIS is a free public telephone and Internet-based resource for personalized information about cancer prevention, screening and treatment. The Hutchinson Center has operated a CIS contact center since 1981.

Over the years, the number of CIS contact centers has dwindled from 26 to three. In addition to Seattle, centers currently operate at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Miami and New York centers will cease operations March 15.

The consolidation will allow operating hours to expand significantly, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time weekdays for phone calls (previously 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific Time weekdays for the popular "live help" chat service via the Internet (previously 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.).

New to the Seattle office will be the ability to provide bilingual service to callers in Spanish. Three oncology-certified nurses will be among the new hires to train information specialists and act as mentors to supervisors.

"We love the service we provide to the public and we're happy to have the opportunity to continue to provide this service on a broader scale," said Nancy Zbaren, project director.

The NCI, the nation’s lead agency for cancer research, established the CIS in 1975 to educate people about cancer prevention, risk factors, early detection, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and research. The CIS is an essential part of NCI’s cancer prevention and control efforts.

"We are the voice of the National Cancer Institute," said Dawn Sittauer, Seattle CIS contact center manager.

The CIS currently handles up to about 470 inquiries per day, including a growing amount of "live help" inquiries and e-mails. Calls come from throughout the United States and its territories but about 12 percent of the chat and e-mail inquiries come from outside the country, according to Sittauer.

"When the public calls with any question or concerns, we are able to provide evidence-based information," Zbaren said. "We answer questions about cancer from patients, family members, physicians and the general public seeking clinical trials, treatment options, any question you an imagine. Our job is to provide information, not advice, in a compassionate and tailored manner."

The CIS can be accessed by a toll-free number, 1-800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237), for telephone inquiries and through the Internet at the NCI’s  Web site (http://www.cancer.gov/help) to contact the service via e-mail or through LiveHelp (chat service).  

Note for media only: A photo of CIS project director Nancy Zbaren and manager Dawn Sittauer in the Seattle CIS contact center is available upon request.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Dean Forbes
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
(206) 667-2896
dforbes@fhcrc.org

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, our interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. For more information, please visit www.fhcrc.org.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a world leader in research to prevent, detect and treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases.