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Cancer Information Has One Number: 25th Anniversary of the Cancer Information Service

No. 20 | 13/04/2011 | by (Koh)

Twenty-five years ago, the Cancer Information Service (Krebsinformationsdienst, KID) was launched at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum). Cancer patients, their families and other interested members of the public seek information here about all aspects of cancer – free of charge, independent, scientifically well-founded and up-to-date. For many people who have questions about cancer, the Cancer Information Service has become a guide through today’s information jungle. The service helps to evaluate information according to one’s own individual situation – by telephone, e-mail and the Internet.


Started in 1986 as a telephone service operated by a few volunteers, the Cancer Information Service has long since evolved into a multimedia information service addressing many different target groups. As early as 1999, the Cancer Information Service added a comprehensive Internet presence to its service spectrum. Since 2001, it has been possible to send inquiries by e-mail. Finally, since 2006, cancer information has had one number: At the toll-free number 0800 420 30 40 the service is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“Establishing KID was a brilliant idea which was ahead of its time in Germany,” said Professor Dr. Otmar D. Wiestler, DKFZ’s Scientific Director, honoring the pioneering work of the service’s initiators: Hilke Stamatiadis Smidt, then DKFZ’s press officer; psychologist Dr. Almuth Sellschopp, and Professor Dr. Harald zur Hausen, then Scientific Director of DKFZ.

The KID team individually answered 32,774 inquiries in the past year, as Dr. Regine Hagmann, head of the Cancer Information Service, reported. In addition, its Internet pages were accessed more than 70 million times. This illustrates the enormous need for high-quality and independent cancer information in Germany. The type of questions has changed over the decades, Hagmann says: “In the beginning, the main concern of users was to seek first information. Today, we often help them assess the value and quality of vast information they already have and to evaluate its relevance for the individual situation. The wish for a trustful conversation is still a major concern of callers, even though more and more people use our Internet pages to seek information about cancer.”

Up until 2009, the German Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs of Baden-Wuerttemberg funded the Cancer Information Service as a temporary project. Since then, the service has received institutional funding by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and has been expanded into a national reference center for cancer information. “Thanks to long-term, secured financing, KID is always available now. In the past, callers often did not get past the busy tone. Today we can offer enough lines to serve the demand,” Regine Hagmann says, pleased about this. In 2010, the Cancer Information Service additionally established an outstation at the University Cancer Center (UCC) in Dresden, which is currently staffed with five female doctors, to expand its services.

As a National Center for Cancer Information, the Cancer Information Service has increased international networking with similar information services in other countries. The service also maintains close national contacts, such as with German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe), the Independent Patient Counseling Service Germany (UPD) and cancer self-help organizations.

The KID team has already started putting further plans into practice: A separate information service for medical professionals is in preparation. Furthermore, staff members are developing information in simple language tailored to the needs of people who currently have insufficient access to cancer information due to their life or educational situation.

Otmar Wiestler expects that the importance of the Cancer Information Service will continue to increase. “Advances in research and medicine have turned cancer more and more into a treatable, chronic disease. This means that patients have a great need for independent information according to the best available evidence over a prolonged period of time. The Cancer Information Service KID, based at the German Cancer Research Center with its excellent research background, is an ideal companion for these people.”

Cancer information has one number: 0800 420 30 40
Cancer information via e-mail:
Cancer information on the Internet:

With more than 3,000 employees, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is Germany’s largest biomedical research institute. DKFZ scientists identify cancer risk factors, investigate how cancer progresses and develop new cancer prevention strategies. They are also developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to questions relating to cancer.

To transfer promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improve the prognosis of cancer patients, the DKFZ cooperates with excellent research institutions and university hospitals throughout Germany:

  • National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT, 6 sites)
  • German Cancer Consortium (DKTK, 8 sites)
  • Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ) Heidelberg
  • Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON Mainz) - A Helmholtz Institute of the DKFZ
  • DKFZ-Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim
  • National Cancer Prevention Center (jointly with German Cancer Aid)
The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


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