|Cancer Guidelines | National Comprehensive Cancer Network|
About the NCCN Guidelines for Patients®
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) aims to provide people with cancer and the general public state-of-the-art cancer treatment information in easy-to-understand language. The NCCN Guidelines for Patients®, based on the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®), are meant to help you when you talk with your doctor about treatment options that are best for you. These guidelines do not replace the expertise and clinical judgment of your doctor.
NCCN is pleased to present the new NCCN Guidelines for Patients® on Breast Cancer, Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults, Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, Colon Cancer, Lung Cancer Screening, Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma, Melanoma, Multiple Myeloma, Prostate Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, and Pancreatic Cancer. Additional NCCN Guidelines for Patients® will be available shortly, and NCCN is committed, with the support of the NCCN Foundation, to develop and distribute many more in the coming months.
NCCN Guidelines for Patients® by Cancer Site
The NCCN Guidelines are the most comprehensive and most frequently updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine. These guidelines provide information that many doctors follow to make sure their decisions for people with cancer are well informed. The NCCN Guidelines are developed by 43 different NCCN Guidelines Panels composed of nearly 900 world-leading experts from each of the NCCN Member Institutions. Cancer is treated by teams of doctors and other health professionals who work together to diagnose and treat cancer. NCCN Guidelines Panels are multidisciplinary, which means they include experts in different fields reflecting the way cancer is treated. These fields include medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, pathology, radiology, nursing, and social work. Recommendations in the NCCN Guidelines are based on evaluation of evidence from clinical trials that are published in the medical literature. Most of the panel members who develop the NCCN Guidelines perform both clinical research and treat people with cancer. The members of each NCCN Guideline Panel specialize in the specific tumors and diseases discussed in that NCCN Guideline. Some NCCN Guidelines Panels also have patient advocates to bring the patient’s perspective to the panel discussions. NCCN Guidelines Panel Members volunteer more than 15,000 hours each year to revising and updating the NCCN Guidelines to reflect new data and clinical information. (The NCCN Guidelines for professionals are available at NCCN.org; free registration is required to view them.)
The NCCN Guidelines are used by doctors in academic centers and community practices to inform their decisions when diagnosing and treating people with cancer. The NCCN Guidelines encompass 97 percent of the tumors encountered in oncology practices, and these guidelines are continually updated as new information becomes available. With the NCCN Guidelines, doctors and patients have access to the same treatment regimens used by NCCN Guidelines Panel Members when they treat their patients. The decisions of the expert panel are based on scientific data coordinated with expert judgment. Community physicians may or may not perform research, but by using the NCCN Guidelines, they have information about the latest evidence from clinical trials and insights to the expertise found at leading cancer centers.
By showing the standard of care, guidelines can reduce variation in how patients are treated and help make sure everyone gets the best care for them. However, no one treatment is right for everyone. Clinical research shows that some treatments are better for a particular disease than others. Similarly, studies have demonstrated that different patients with the same cancer may need different treatments. In many cases, patient preference is important especially when selecting among several effective treatments each with different side effects. Recommendations included in the NCCN Guidelines are those that NCCN doctors feel are most useful based on the evidence published in medical journals and their own experience treating patients. Therefore, even if a treatment is part of the NCCN Guidelines, it may not be the right treatment for all people with cancer or all people with that particular cancer. This is because each patient has a specific medical history and individual circumstances.
On the other hand, not including a particular treatment in the NCCN Guidelines only means that there is not strong enough evidence at this time to support using it as part of standard practice. In some cases, there may be ongoing clinical trials to determine whether the treatment is effective.
Many new treatments are available because patients have participated in clinical trials. Additionally, new treatments that are not yet part of standard practice may only be available in clinical trials. You can discuss whether a clinical trial might be right for you with your doctor.
The NCCN Guidelines for Patients® translate the information that doctors use to help you and your family understand your treatment options. They empower you to discuss treatment choices with your health care team and make cancer care decisions that are right for you.