NCI's Division of Clinical Sciences (DCS) supports ongoing intramural clinical trials on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. These trials include studies of clinical treatment protocols for lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and bladder cancers and lymphoma. DCS maintains a central referral office that prospective patients can contact and a toll-free telephone number that prospective patients can call to obtain information or help in finding appropriate studies. All care at the clinical center is free of charge. In addition, NCI contributes to the Special Ambulatory Care Program to supplement travel, housing, and guardian expenses for patients while they are at the clinical center and for transportation to and from NIH. In addition, NCI has contributed to the Patient Emergency Fund, which is available to provide financial assistance to patients participating in clinical trials.
NCI reports that "statistical and financial evaluations of the populations recruited to intramural trials at NIH indicate that the majority of [NCI's] patients, and particularly pediatric patients, represent indigent populations from rural or inner-city areas" (National Cancer Institute, 1998b, p. 10). In FY 1996, 2,798 patients were enrolled at the NCI clinical center. Of these, 83 percent were white, 10.8 percent were African American, 2.5 percent were Hispanic, 1.4 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander, 0.1 percent were Native American, and 2.1 percent were of unknown racial or ethnic backgrounds.
CCOP links patients and community-based physicians with researchers at clinical cooperative groups and cancer centers, thereby providing cancer patients, their physicians, and researchers with access to NCI-approved clinical trials and state-of-the-art care. NCI has funded nine clinical cooperative groups and three cancer centers to develop and manage clinical trials through CCOP. In addition, 51 community-based programs in 30 states were funded through CCOP and involved the participation of more than 300 hospitals and 3,300 physicians. NCI reports that nearly 20 percent of the more than 20,000 patients entering clinical treatment trials each year are ethnic minorities.
To increase the numbers of ethnic minority participants in CCOP, NCI initiated MBCCOPs in 1990. MBCCOPs are funded in seven states and Puerto Rico and have accounted for more than 50 percent of the