By Jill Mullen, MPA, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications & Policy, Editor
Through private philanthropy and grants, the NCCN Foundation advances the mission of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) to improve the quality and effectiveness of care provided to patients with cancer. The NCCN Foundation was initiated in 2010, with a key goal in the first year of raising funds for the development and distribution of the NCCN Guidelines for Patients™. Eight of these guidelines for patients are now available with another six to eight planned for the coming year. Each existing guideline will also be updated to reflect ongoing changes in the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®). The NCCN Guidelines for Patients™ use the same treatment algorithms that are the hallmark of the NCCN Guidelines® but are translated into a consumer-friendly format utilizing language for non-professional audiences.
In July 2011, the NCCN Foundation welcomed its newest Board Member, Andrew von Eschenbach, MD. The former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Director of the National Cancer Institute, as well as a world-renowned cancer clinician, Dr. von Eschenbach brings a wealth of leadership experience and visionary skills to the Board's deliberations. Dr. von Eschenbach currently serves as President of Samaritan Health Initiatives, a Consultant at the Center for Health Transformation, and Adjunct Professor at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Nearly 12 million Americans are alive today after being told they have cancer. Due to medical advances, people are living many years after a cancer diagnosis. Survivors are at greater risk for recurrence and for developing secondary cancers due to the effects of treatment; unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity; genetics; and risk factors that contributed to the primary cancer. Few evidence-based recommendations for surveillance following a patient's treatment exist. However, NCCN Guidelines Panels have developed reasonable recommendations based on their institutional practice.
Additionally, there are few recommendations to guide treatment of long-term or late effects of cancer and its treatment. To address survivors' need for these resources, NCCN plans to convene a new NCCN Survivorship Panel to provide recommendations on general wellness, cancer rehabilitation, possible long-term and late effects of cancer and its treatment, and when to refer patients back to their oncologists. This multidisciplinary panel will include medical oncologists, primary care physicians, nurses, and cancer survivors, among other specialists. Many patients are looking to become more empowered and are taking an increasingly active role in their own health management. The survivorship guidelines will provide both patients and their physicians with the resources to identify appropriate care for cancer survivors. This new program on the horizon will create another important focus and opportunity for the NCCN Foundation.