Although the sheer complexity of cancer itself remains our most significant challenge, it is almost matched by the heterogeneity of the actual practice of cancer medicine across our nation. Part of NCI's mandate is to disseminate new knowledge and best practices, as well as clinical trial opportunities, to physicians and patients, regardless of location or social standing. It is a charge we take seriously, and we are making significant progress. In addition, we know that progress will continue to be made only if we make a concerted effort to identify, nurture, and train the next generation of talented researchers and clinicians.
The Need for Research on Access to Cancer Care
Although we are rapidly gaining new knowledge about cancer, we must get that new knowledge—the latest science—to patients. NCI maintains a network of 63 Cancer Centers, which are principally located at our country's premier research universities. Thirty-nine of those facilities, which conduct research and provide state-of-the-art cancer care, are designated as Comprehensive Cancer Centers. Yet, we are also aware that only approximately 15 percent of cancer patients are treated in these centers, with the great majority of the nation's cancer patients being treated in the communities where they live and work.
"Mindful of our mission to conduct research in all areas of science—including the behavioral sciences, such as how best to provide
patient education and access to optimal care—NCI is launching the pilot phase of the national Community Cancer Centers Program that, if fully implemented, will help
bring state-of-the-art cancer care to patients in community hospitals across the United States."
- Dr. John Niederhuber
Director, National Cancer Institute
Hearing Senate Subcommittee
on Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations
May 21, 2007
To address this significant access problem, NCI launched the NCI Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP) earlier this year, which is designed to study ways to bring new discoveries closer to the home of each cancer patient. The NCCCP, now in a three-year pilot phase, will encourage the collaboration of private-practice medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists and provide close links to NCI research and to the network of NCI-designated Cancer Centers. The pilot program will also study new and enhanced ways to assist, educate, and treat the needs of underserved populations—including elderly, rural, inner-city, and low-income patients—as well as racial and ethnic groups with unusually high cancer rates. Through this program, we will also learn how best to educate patients concerning cancer risk, healthier living, screening practices, clinical trial participation, survivorship, and end-of-life issues.
The NCCCP pilot will also study ways to bring early-phase clinical research to the community setting, along with emphasis on the standardized collection of biological research and the institution of electronic medical records. The NCCCP is designed to work in concert with other initiatives, in new settings, and with greater benefits for more patients.
More and more Americans are benefiting from advances in early detection and treatment of cancer. However, many Hispanics and Latinos in the United States have not heard this message and are unable to take full advantage of these options. By 2050, it is estimated that Latinos will make up a quarter of the U.S. population. National efforts to control cancer must include interventions and information directed at this group. NCI's Spanish-language Web site (http://www.cancer.gov/espanol) strongly communicates the message that cancer can be prevented and treated, in addition to offering information on all aspects of the disease. The site is tailored to meet the needs of Latinos who seek cancer information online. Rather than simply translating the English version of cancer.gov, the site was designed specifically for this audience. Cancer.gov en Español currently contains pages on different types of cancer, more than 100 peer-reviewed cancer treatment summaries for health professionals and patients, and a dictionary that includes 5,000 terms and definitions in both Spanish and English. NCI will continue to test and update the site to ensure that it meets the information needs of Spanish speakers.