Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

CIS at UM/Sylvester Selected as Contact Center & Only Spanish-Language Contact Center in the Nation


The University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center has been selected for a future contract award to house one of only four regional contact centers in the nation for the Cancer Information Service, anticipated effective January 15, 2005. The CIS is a service of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, tasked with providing free cancer information by phone and online.

“With the anticipated award, UM/Sylvester will be one of only four regional contact centers in the nation, and the only Spanish-language call service in the country,” said Jo Beth Speyer, M.S.W., director of the Coastal Region Cancer Information Service office at UM/Sylvester. CIS callers from around the country will be routed to one of four contact centers including the CIS office here at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami. Every Spanish-language call in the nation will come here.

“South Florida has a very highly-skilled bilingual talent pool to draw from for information specialists,” said Julie Kornfeld, M.P.H., deputy director of the Coastal Region CIS at UM/Sylvester. “Specialists go through extensive training on multiple cancers. They’re trained to help people understand their cancer diagnosis, what their treatment options might be and answer a variety of cancer-related questions,” said Kornfeld. Specialists are also trained to be empathetic to the emotional state of callers.

In addition to the telephone service, at (1-800-4-CANCER), internet users can access the NCI’s Web site,, for real-time assistance through LiveHelp, an instant messaging service.

“This contract gives us the opportunity to continue and to expand our research partnerships, which is a key part of the work that we’re doing here,” said Clyde B. McCoy, Ph.D., chairman of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Miller School of Medicine at UM and the principal investigator of the CIS contract. UM/Sylvester’s selection as a contact center includes a five-year contract totaling nearly $18 million. “It also enhances the reputation of the School of Medicine to have our people be responsible for answering questions about cancer from callers all around the country.”

The CIS maintains two other disciplines in addition to the information service. “We operate a research program which studies how people communicate about cancer, and a partnership program to work with community organizations on cancer education – especially in minority and medically underserved populations,” said Kornfeld. “We also have off-site offices in Puerto Rico, the U.S.Virgin Islands, and Tallahassee.” While UM/Sylvester is one of only four contact centers in the country, there are research and partnership programs in a total of 15 locations, which are listed below.

“This new configuration realigns program resources and retains the strengths of our partnership program,” said Mary Anne Bright, director of the CIS. “We are taking advantage of advanced technology to consolidate contact center operations.”

“The CIS remains an important investment for this institute and for the American public,” said Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., director of NCI. “We are committed to providing a superlative source of information that can be accessed by anyone in need.”

About the CIS

The CIS has more than 900 collaborative partners, paying special attention to populations affected by disparities in cancer detection and treatment. The CIS also takes nearly 300,000 calls each year and has responded to more than 10 million callers since the service began in 1976. This year alone, NCI will award $20.9 million to all CIS centers. CIS also offers smoking cessation counseling at 1-877-44U-QUIT.

E-mail a Friend