Cancer Risk Helpline Celebrates One Year Anniversary

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Nation's first toll-free helpline for individuals concerned about breast and ovarian cancer risk reports high satisfaction rate in first year.

On the anniversary of the launching of their toll-free telephone helpline for individuals concerned about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer risk, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE), a national advocacy group for women concerned about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, and the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania reported high satisfaction rates with the helpline during it’s first year of operation. Dr. James Coyne, Co-Director of the Cancer Control and Outcomes Program initiated the helpline to meet a pressing need for support and information among women and their families in the community. The helpline, which opened in December 2003, is the country’s first toll-free helpline specifically for individuals concerned about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer risk.

“We are pleased and encouraged by the extremely positive response to the Helpline. Callers indicated high satisfaction with both the information and support aspects of these calls, and have high praise for our volunteers,” said Dr. Pamela Shapiro, who managed the study by the University of Pennsylvania that examined caller satisfaction rates and outcomes.

“We are thrilled that we could demonstrate the benefits of using trained peers to provide support and help women find health care experts who can assist them in making good decisions about their health care,” said Sue Friedman, founder and executive director of FORCE. “Clearly our services are filling an important need in those individuals concerned that breast or ovarian cancer may run in their family.”

Although the preliminary study looking at helpline satisfaction has been completed, the helpline continues to offer free support and resources for callers. People who call into the helpline have direct access to any one of 25 volunteers located across the country by calling (866)824-RISK.

About FORCE:

FORCE was founded in 1998 by Sue Friedman, a breast cancer survivor and carrier of a BRCA-2 mutation that predisposed her to cancer. Diagnosed at the young age of 33, Friedman was unaware of her many risk factors for the disease, and noticing the lack of educational support for women in similar circumstance, she founded FORCE to provide support for high-risk women and raise awareness about hereditary cancer risks. For more information about FORCE, please visit:

About the Abramson Cancer Center:

The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania was established in 1973 as a center of excellence in cancer research, patient care, education and outreach. Today, the Abramson Cancer Center ranks as one of the nation’s best in cancer care, according to US News and World Report, and is one of the top five in National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding. It is one of only 39 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Home to one of the largest clinical and research programs in the world, the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania has 275 active cancer researchers and 250 Penn physicians involved in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. More information about the Abramson Cancer Center is available at:

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