|NCI Offers Support for Those Affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
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 and who could be affected by Hurricane Rita.
NCI is reaching out to numerous audiences to provide cancer-related information
that can be shared accurately and effectively with those who have been displaced
due to the hurricanes.
"The effects of Hurricane Katrina have touched the entire nation, and now we
must face the impact of Hurricane Rita," said NCI Director Andrew C. von Eschenbach,
M.D. “Through our Cancer Information Service and our partnerships with federal
agencies, civilian organizations and relief groups, NCI has helped numerous patients
and their loved ones receive the cancer care they need after being displaced.
But there is still much work to be done, and I am confident that by working with
the entire cancer community, we will meet the needs of our patients."
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 the hurricanes.
- 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 will share information from an
ASCO-compiled list of oncology practices in the Southern Gulf Coast region
and across the country 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. Physicians 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. Physicians who do not have access to a computer can
ask the CIS Information Specialists to post their information on the message
- 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 the 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.
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has established round-the-clock
telephone medical consultation service for all patients and healthcare providers
affected by the hurricanes. The toll-free number for this service is 1-866-887-2842.
Medical experts at NIH, academic medical centers and the nation's medical professional
societies are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide medical consultations
on a wide array of medical problems, including cancer.
- 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 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This Web
includes links to vital information, including:
- 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. Eastern Time.
- A link to ASCO's list of oncology practices, cancer centers,
- A link to information available from the American Society
for Therapeutic Radiation and Oncology (ASTRO), including a list of oncology
practices able to care for displaced patients and a toll-free number to
connect displaced oncologists with physicians who are treating their patients
in other locations.
- NCI’s Web page for hurricane relief, http://www.cancer.gov/hurricane-response-efforts,
also includes information for the medical and research community affected by
Katrina and Rita, including:
- Key NCI program contacts to help NCI research grantees with
their inquiries and concerns.
- NIH Medical Consultation Services providing services for
primary care providers of patients in the disaster zones.
- Assistance from the American Association for Cancer Research
for scientists, clinicians, students, and fellows who were working or residing
in the Hurricane Katrina disaster area.
- NIH resources for the biomedical research community, including
NIH Guide Notices and other information for investigators and their institutions.
- A link to the American Cancer Society’s guide to Coping With
Cancer After Katrina. The NCI Web site will be updated with additional
resources as they become available.
- The NIH Web site, http://www.nih.gov/about/director/hurricanekatrina/index.htm,
provides additional information about NIH's response to Katrina.
- Further information from HHS about Hurricane Katrina is available
- NCI is working with cancer centers in and around the affected
regions to coordinate support efforts. In addition, NCI continues to assess
the number of displaced researchers and laboratories and is identifying options
for continuing research activities at NCI or at other institutions.
- NCI has identified a number of spokespersons for press inquiries
and possible telephone consultations.
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 the hurricanes 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).