After 10 years, CDC still innovating in getting information to cancer patients

As we approach cold and flu season, it’s important to remember how important it is to take care of your health. This is particularly important for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. The CDC’s Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients (PICP) program is now celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

“We started the program ten years ago because, as a medical oncologist, taking care of patients who are getting chemotherapy, it’s very difficult for them to remember everything that we tell them during a visit,” said Dr. Lisa C. Richardson, Director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “The website was created to help women and men. They can go to the website after their doctor visit and look up the things that they had been told, but maybe had forgotten.”

The CDC has started using a virtual human, TINA on the site. TINA is designed to be a safe learning environment for patients to learn about the risk of infection and steps they can take to reduce that risk.

“Get your flu shot,” said Richardson. “Wash your hands, obviously, and have others wash their hands. We have created some new resources. The lifestyle factors, like smoking and not eating a healthy diet that caused the first cancer can cause a second cancer, or the cancer to come back.”

Cancer survivor Ronda McCaul Walker says TINA is a tool that helped her make it through.

“When you go to the doctor, you’re inundated with a lot of information,” said Walker. “It’s hard to receive it all. It’s hard to process it all. Once you get home, having the opportunity to go on to a website, you’re on your couch, you’re comfortable at home and then you can think through all the information and process. TINA’s interactive. It’s great. It’s just like talking to a human, but it’s just an avatar on your computer screen.”

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