Cancer Answers from Web Confusing Canadians


"It's our belief that this could eventually cure later-staged metastasized cancer. People will not die from cancer, if our prediction is true.THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – Nearly half of all Canadian adults are asking questions about cancer, and most turn first to the web for information, leaving them confused, overwhelmed and stressed out, a new survey commissioned by the Canadian Cancer Society reveals.

Demand for cancer information is poised to climb even higher as the country’s aging population drives an expected 40% surge in cancer cases by 2030. People can avoid search-engine overload by calling the Society’s Cancer Information Service at no cost to speak with a cancer information expert who will help answer questions and navigate available resources.

As part of our annual Daffodil Month launch, the Society is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the free Cancer Information Service. For the last 20 years, people from across the country have been able to call or email trained cancer information specialists with their questions about cancer. By calling 1-888-939-3333 or emailing, Canadians can receive reliable information on more than 200 types of cancer, including prevention, treatment, diagnosis, care and services.

“Facing cancer is hard. People have many worries and questions during what may be the most stressful time in their lives or the lives of a loved one,” says Pamela Fralick, President and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society. “It’s easy to become overwhelmed. Don’t face cancer alone. Instead, we urge people to contact our free Cancer Information Service.”

When it comes to getting definitive cancer information, doctors and healthcare professionals are trusted by 94% of Canadians, yet only 8% of Canadians contacted them first with questions. Cancer organizations and charities are trusted by 87%, but only 4.5% of Canadians searching for cancer information reached out to them.

People are more skeptical of online sources with only 69% trusting the information – dropping to 61% for adults under 35. Yet, 85% of people with cancer questions first turned to a search engine.

Convenience is an issue. While the web is easily accessible, more than half of Canadians (54%) say it is challenging to get time to speak with their healthcare team. But ease of use comes with unexpected side effects. Two-thirds (66%) of people felt overwhelmed with information, and 62% felt stressed out and worried, jumping to 70% among Canadians 18 to 34.

Since 1996, the Canadian Cancer Society has answered 1,250,000 questions through its Cancer Information Service. Flynn deHamilton is one of the many people helped by a cancer information specialist.

“Speaking to the Cancer Information Specialist was such a positive experience. It’s hard to digest a cancer diagnosis, especially when its terminal, and having coping services available makes all the difference, says Flynn. “I’d highly recommend the Cancer Information Service. It’s comforting to know that there’s help out there.”

It’s important to note that when people contact the Cancer Information Service for help, their privacy is protected and they will not be asked for donations or put on a mailing list.

Providing information and support services is a core mandate of the Society, and Daffodil Month is an ideal opportunity to help raise awareness about the Cancer Information Service. The results of the survey also showed that doctors and healthcare professionals can play a vital role in spreading the word.

Once survey respondents were told about the Cancer Information Service, 64% said they would call instead of searching online, and 82% said they would be more likely to contact the information specialists if their doctor or healthcare team recommended it.

Jennifer Wiernikowski knows the value of the Cancer Information Service and has recommended it to many of her patients. Wiernikowski is a nurse practitioner at the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton and member of the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology.

“I encourage all my patients and their families to call the Cancer Information Service,” says Wiernikowski. “This service is a trusted source of information and support. The staff take as much time as needed to make sure people get all of their questions answered, even the ones they didn’t even know they should ask.”

About Daffodil Month 

During Daffodil Month in April, volunteers across the country are involved in numerous activities to raise funds for the fight against cancer, including selling daffodil pins and flowers. Money raised during Daffodil Month helps people with cancer and their families in communities across Canada. In addition to support services, donations fund life-saving research and advocacy so that fewer Canadians are affected by the disease.

This April, join the fight. Support Canadians living with cancer during Daffodil Month. Find out more at

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