By Kate Barker, Communications Coordinator
On Thursday, September 23, 2010, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) convened the NCCN Patient Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. at the National Press Club. This invite-only Policy Summit was attended by patient advocates, providers, employers, clinicians, and industry representatives within the oncology community. These key stakeholders gathered for a day-long session to discuss the current issues that most profoundly affect patient care.
NCCN commenced the Patient Advocacy Summit with a press conference announcing the launch of the NCCN Guidelines for Patients™, patient-friendly translations of the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines™), for Breast and Lung Cancers. The NCCN Guidelines for Patients™ are representative of NCCN’s dedication to the betterment of patient education and care. NCCN hopes to have a total of six NCCN Guidelines for Patients™ completed by the end of 2010.
Following the press conference, the Summit featured a series of panel discussions featuring representatives from each sector in attendance. Each roundtable was moderated by William T. McGivney, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of NCCN. The first panel debated the potential impacts health care reform bears for patient care. Provider coverage, Medicare reform, and patient utilization of the health care system were among subjects of debate addressed by the panel, moderator, and participating audience members.
Next, a roundtable of clinical experts and patient advocates focused on major advances in oncology and the correlating opportunities this progress presents for patients. Panelists discussed the growing role of biomarkers and stressed the importance of personalized treatment for patients with cancer. They also emphasized the need for more concrete science to support the formation of policy and coverage decisions. The role of compendia and the use of drugs and biologics for indications beyond the FDA-approved label, the topic of an upcoming NCCN Oncology Policy Summit, were also explored.
A panel of experts from patient advocacy groups, industry, and NCCN next addressed the information needs of patients. The emphasis was not only on patient education, but also on the best means of delivering this crucial information. The value of patient-relatable language and resources, indispensible tools in empowering patients to take an active role in their treatment, emerged as additional areas of consideration.
Finally, participants discussed improving patient access to cancer care. Conversation centered on the need to deliver the best possible care in the current economic and scientific environment. The clinical trial system was identified as a necessary area for advancement in the cancer care-delivery system. Speakers challenged the perception of clinical trials and examined their current structure, highlighting opportunities for reform and improvement. Panelists also addressed methods for equipping employers with better decision-making tools to support individuals with cancer.Amid insightful debate and diverse conversation, the underlying consensus of the Summit was plain. It is essential that the oncology community collaboratively works toward the common goal of improving the lives of patients with cancer. Through patient-driven initiatives such as the Patient Advocacy Summit and the NCCN Guidelines for Patients™, NCCN continually strives to do just that.