|NCI Offers Support for Those in Need After Hurricane Katrina
The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH), is committed to helping the many thousands of people who have been devastated
by the effects of Hurricane Katrina. NCI is reaching out to numerous audiences
to provide cancer-related information that can be shared accurately and effectively
with those who have been affected by the hurricane.
“This disaster has touched the entire nation,” said NCI Director Andrew C. von
Eschenbach, M.D. “NCI is engaged in a number of opportunities, working within
the framework of lead federal agencies and with civilian organizations and relief
agencies, to assist cancer patients and medical professionals in the region who
have been significantly affected.”
Coordinating NCI efforts is Mark Clanton, M.D., M.P.H., deputy director for
Cancer Care Delivery Systems. “Our first and foremost concern is the safety and
well-being of medical personnel and patients in the area,” said Clanton. “We
are marshalling all available communication and information resources to accomplish
this, and are also working to help NIH address the needs of displaced researchers
The following is a summary of resources and ongoing efforts to enable cancer
care and research to continue in the face of this national disaster.
The National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service (CIS), a toll-free
call for U.S. residents at 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237), provides the latest
and most accurate cancer information to patients, their families, the public,
and health professionals. The CIS is available to help provide cancer-related
information — including referrals to possible support services — to patients
and doctors affected by Hurricane Katrina.
- CIS information specialists answer calls Monday through Friday from 9:00
a.m. to 4:30 p.m. local time, in English or Spanish. Callers also have the
option of listening to recorded information about cancer 24 hours a day, seven
days a week.
- Callers with TTY equipment may call 1–800–332–8615.
- The CIS, working together with the American Society of Clinical Oncology
(ASCO), has established the 1-800-4-CANCER number as an additional contact
point for oncologists and cancer patients. The NCI-ASCO collaboration provides
displaced cancer patients with a cancer-specific resource to help them find
a location where they can receive cancer-related care.
- CIS information specialists can share with callers the ASCO-compiled list
of oncology practices in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas
that are open and available to accept patients.
- The NCI-ASCO collaboration also serves as a way for displaced oncologists
to connect with oncologists accepting patients from hurricane-affected areas,
many of whom are arriving in clinics without any records or knowledge about
their treatment. Displaced oncologists can provide contact information where
they can be reached, thus enabling the treating physician to better reconstruct
the patient’s history and help coordinate any emergency treatment with other
health care providers.
For patients who are on NCI-sponsored clinical trials — and doctors who are asked
to treat cancer patients who have been on an NCI-sponsored trial — NCI has established
a phone number to call, 301-496-5725.
- This line will be answered from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. After
hours and on weekends, callers can leave a message and an NCI employee will
respond within an hour.
- During the emergency, NCI will send cancer investigational drugs for displaced
patients to sites that had not previously participated in trials, assist with
sharing of cancer drug supplies, assist with regulatory issues, and provide
protocols to physicians caring for cancer trial patients in emergency situations.
Additional details are available through the NCI number.
NCI’s Web site, www.cancer.gov, now includes a
Web portal to provide resources for cancer patients, their families, and physicians
who have been displaced due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. This Web page, http://www.cancer.gov/katrina,
includes links to vital information, including:
The NIH Web site, http://www.nih.gov/about/director/hurricanekatrina/index.htm,
provides additional information about NIH’s response at this critical time, including
the deployment of a medical team to a field hospital location in Meridian, Miss.,
and the availability of 100 beds for patients who may need to be transferred
to the NIH campus.
Further information from HHS about Hurricane Katrina is available at http://www.hhs.gov/katrina/.
- Links for health professionals to volunteer through the Department of Health
and Human Services
- A clinical trials search form to help displaced cancer patients on clinical
trials determine what specific trial they are participating in and to help
them find an alternative site to continue their treatment
- The Cancer Information Service and its LiveHelp program, which offers online
assistance in English from Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- A link to ASCO’s list of oncology practices, cancer centers, and hospitals.
- NCI is working with cancer centers in and around the affected regions to
understand their needs at this time, and to provide resources to them as necessary.
In addition, NCI is assessing the number of displaced researchers and laboratories,
to help determine how their research can be resumed in a different location.
- NCI has identified a number of spokespersons for press inquiries and possible
NCI will continue to adapt our efforts as needs evolve. NCI, along with NIH
and HHS, pledges to continue to inform the public and to ensure that cancer patients
directly and indirectly affected by Hurricane Katrina receive appropriate, ongoing
care with as little interruption as possible.
For more information about cancer, visit the NCI Web site at http://www.cancer.gov or call NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical
research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.