<i>Editors’ note: In this column, Roberta Cahill of the American Cancer Society answers questions on cancer information services available to the public. Cahill is Yankton Sioux and lives in Pierre, S.D. Her work focuses on cancer awareness and education to diverse populations.</i>

Charlotte Hoefer: Roberta, people facing cancer need clear, reliable information in order to understand the disease and make informed decisions about their health. Where can they turn?

Roberta Cahill: The American Cancer Society is the only nationwide organization to provide cancer information any time of the day or night – whenever you need to talk. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through our 24-hour information resources. Just call the toll-free number at (800) ACS-2345, and you’ll get to talk to a real person, a cancer information specialist. Or visit our Web site at www.cancer.org.

Hoefer: If someone calls the toll-free number – even at 2 a.m. – there’s always someone there live to help them?

Cahill: Yes. You’ll get answers about cancer, cancer treatments and programs and services the American Cancer Society provides. Patients can also be put in touch with a “navigator.” A navigator can refer you to programs and services in your local community, as well as answer questions on diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

Hoefer: What kind of information is on the Web site?

Cahill: The American Cancer Society Web site provides up-to-date cancer information, which is crucial to patients and their families in order to cope with the physical, psychological and emotional challenges of a cancer diagnosis. It allows you to look up specific kinds of cancer to find out more about it. It also provides cancer information on upcoming and current clinical trials for patients to get involved in. You’ll find information on the latest cancer research [and] the newest treatments available. And patients can access information about services and resources in their local community, as well as upcoming events they might want to participate in.

Hoefer: How many people went to the Web site for cancer information last year?

Cahill: We had 17.8 million visits to the Web site. And the American Cancer Society answered more than 1 million calls at our toll-free information line. The American Cancer Society is committed to providing lifesaving information to all those facing a cancer diagnosis.

<b>The American Cancer Society mission</b>

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913, and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the society has 13 regional divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information any time, call (800) ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.