NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
September 6, 2005 • Volume 2 / Number 34 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Featured Article

NCI Assists in Hurricane Relief Efforts

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is working closely with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and other government and civilian agencies to bring relief to displaced cancer patients and others. As an immediate response, NCI has posted key federal assistance information and phone numbers on its Web site at with specific information in support of cancer patients.

"This disaster has touched the entire nation," said NCI Director Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach. "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."

Cancer patients and their families needing specific information should call:
1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) or go to
Patients who are participating in NCI-sponsored clinical trials can also call 301-496-5725.

Coordinating NCI efforts is Dr. Mark Clanton, 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," Dr. Clanton said. "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 and others."

NCI's Cancer Information Service (CIS) is providing staff and its 1-800-4-CANCER toll-free number toward relief efforts. CIS has also partnered with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to establish a contact point for oncologists. The NCI-ASCO collaboration serves several purposes:

  • It allows displaced cancer patients to call a central, cancer-specific, toll-free number to find out where they can receive care. ASCO has already compiled a list of practices in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas that are open and available to accept patients.
  • It serves as a way for displaced oncologists to connect with oncologists accepting patients from the area. Many patients 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.
  • It allows displaced cancer patients and their families to speak to a trained cancer information specialist who can provide basic cancer information and referrals to possible support services.

NCI is also establishing a phone number for patients and physicians searching for alternative sites for NCI clinical trials. Patients participating in an NCI-sponsored clinical trial in a hospital or oncology practice located in the hurricane-affected region should call 301-496-5725.

Other plans are underway to support displaced NCI grantees and extramural researchers from the region who may need temporary placement elsewhere to continue their research. NIH has taken a lead role in such placements for the entire biomedical community, and has created the following Web pages to help manage requests and offers of assistance: ( and

Other major NIH efforts include:

  • Creation and activation of a national coordination and referral center for specialty medical consultation (1-866-887-2842);
  • Deployment of an advance team and a medical team to a field hospital in Meridian, Miss.; and
  • Provision of more than 100 beds at the NIH Clinical Center for specialized, acute referrals, if needed.

By Barbara Cire