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Emergency Preparedness at NCI

When emergencies happen, different groups have different needs. NCI stays as prepared as we can to provide cancer care and continue cancer research in the face of catastrophic events. The more you do to prepare for an emergency before something happens, the better equipped you will be to respond. It is important to think ahead, be prepared, and have a plan.

Resources for Patients and Health Care Providers

Wallet Card 

NCI and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) developed a free wallet card for patients in English and Spanish. The card guides patients to NCI's and ASCO's patient information websites and NCI's Cancer Information Service (1-800-4-CANCER) where they can get more information during a disaster. It includes space for critical information in case a patient is seen by a doctor who is unfamiliar with them.

Download and print English version

Download and print Spanish version

Tips for Patients with Cancer

During a disaster, cancer patients need to be particularly concerned about certain situations, especially if they become displaced. Cancer patients, especially those on active treatment, can have weakened immune systems and may be at higher risk for infections, bleeding, fatigue, and injury. Take these important steps to be prepared:

  • Talk with your health care provider about what to do and how you will stay in contact in the event of a disaster.
  • Make a plan with your family, friends, and neighbors - whoever may need to help you during a disaster event.
  • Know your exact diagnosis, cancer stage, and any medications you take. If you are receiving chemotherapy or radiation, know where you are in your treatment cycle.
  • If you are on a clinical trial, know the trial number (NCT number, preferably), Principal Investigator, hospital, and drugs or treatments being given.
  • Make sure you have your health care provider's contact information and other important phone numbers with you at all times. Cell phones may not work and batteries can drain, so be sure to have important phone numbers written down on the card or elsewhere.
  • If you have insurance, make sure to carry your insurance card. Contact your insurance provider in the event you are displaced and need to seek care.
  • Make a kit with items you may need like dressings, antiseptic, medications, a thermometer, etc. Put them in a zip lock bag to keep them dry.

NCI Cancer Information Service (CIS)

The NCI (CIS) can help with disaster preparation, updates, and where to receive care in the event that a disaster event disrupts care or displaces patients.

  • Call 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237)
    Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time in English or Spanish. After business hours, recorded information is available.
  • Online LiveHelp® chat
    The CIS LiveHelp program offers online assistance in English, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

General Resources


Resources for the Research Community

NCI is very aware of the disruptions that some of our grantees may face in the aftermath of hurricanes or other natural disasters. We understand there may be damage and loss to research infrastructure and resources. NCI is committed to working with affected researchers and their institutions to ensure that their research efforts can continue.

NCI Contacts for Grantees

If you are an NCI grantee affected by an event like a hurricane or other natural disaster, please contact any of the individuals on the list. They will direct your questions and requests to the appropriate NCI staff for assistance.

NCI Contacts for Research Contractors

Find a list of contract office contacts, organized by research area, at the NCI Office of Acquisitions (OA) website.


Resources for NCI Employees and Contractors

  • Posted: October 3, 2011
  • Updated: February 17, 2015