NCCN Guidelines® and Derivative Information Products: User Guide
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is an alliance of 23 of the world's leading cancer centers, working together to develop treatment guidelines for most cancers, and dedicated to research that improves the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of cancer care. NCCN offers a number of programs to give clinicians access to tools and knowledge that can help guide decision-making in the management of cancer.
Over the past 15 years, NCCN has developed an integrated suite of tools to improve the quality of cancer care. The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) document evidence-based, consensus-driven management to ensure that all patients receive preventive, diagnostic, treatment, and supportive services that are most likely to lead to optimal outcomes.
The NCCN Guidelines® are a comprehensive set of guidelines detailing the sequential management decisions and interventions that currently apply to 97 percent of cancers affecting patients in the United States. In addition, separate guidelines provide recommendations for some of the key cancer prevention and screening topics as well as supportive care considerations. The NCCN Guidelines provide recommendations based on the best evidence available at the time they are derived. Because new data are published continuously, it is essential that the NCCN Guidelines also be continuously updated and revised to reflect new data and clinical information that may add to or alter current clinical practice standards. The intent of the NCCN Guidelines is to assist in the decision-making process of individuals involved in cancer care—including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, payers, patients and their families—with the ultimate goal of advancing patient care in the fight against cancer.
The NCCN Guidelines are composed of several critical components, as follows:
- listing of panel members providing institutional affiliations and specialties;
- algorithms or decision pathways outlining the step-by-step clinical decision-making process for patient management;
- discussion text summarizing the data the recommendations are based upon and the important issues considered in interpreting the data and developing the algorithms;
- listing of references providing the evidence on which recommendations are based; and
- disclosure of potential conflicts of interest of panel members and NCCN headquarters staff.
The NCCN Guidelines are developed and updated by 47 individual panels, comprising over 950 clinicians and oncology researchers from the 23 NCCN Member Institutions. These panel members are multidisciplinary, disease-specific subspecialists who are both clinicians and researchers. In addition, each guideline undergoes annual institutional review where it is circulated for comment among the multidisciplinary faculty at each NCCN Member Institution.
Further details on the Development and Update of the NCCN Guidelines are available, which provide information on the composition and roles of the NCCN Guidelines development group, policies for transparency and management of potential conflicts of interest, and the Guidelines development and updates process.
The NCCN Drugs & Biologics Compendium (NCCN Compendium®) is based directly on the recommendations contained in the NCCN Guidelines and designed to support decision-making about the appropriate use of drugs and biologics in patients with cancer.
The NCCN Compendium® is recognized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and UnitedHealthcare as a mandated reference for oncology coverage policy. Managed care medical directors, pharmacy benefits directors, and other health care professionals also reference the NCCN Compendium when making decisions that impact patient access to appropriate therapy. All recommendations (at all category levels) in the NCCN Compendium constitute appropriate, medically-necessary care. The NCCN Compendium lists both FDA-approved uses and appropriate uses beyond the FDA-approved label.
The NCCN Compendium recommendations are derived and translated from the NCCN Guidelines by NCCN staff and approved by NCCN Guidelines panel members. The goal of the compendium is to provide an easy to use resource for clinicians and payers to determine appropriate use of drugs and biologics across oncology practice.
Based directly on the NCCN Guidelines, the NCCN Biomarkers Compendium™ contains information designed to support decision-making around the use of biomarker testing in patients with cancer.
The goal of the NCCN Biomarkers Compendium is to provide essential details for those tests which have been approved by NCCN Guidelines Panels and are recommended by the NCCN Guidelines. Tests that measure changes in genes or gene products and which are used for diagnosis, screening, monitoring, surveillance, or for providing predictive or prognostic information are included in the NCCN Biomarkers Compendium.
General information on appropriate methodologies for biomarker testing is provided, focusing on the biology or abnormality being measured rather than on commercially available tests or test kits. NCCN anticipates that this compendium may eventually be used by payers in much the same way the NCCN Compendium is utilized as a reference for coverage decisions. The NCCN Biomarkers Compendium aims to ensure that patients have coverage and access to appropriate biomarker testing based on the evaluations and recommendations of NCCN Guidelines Panel members.
NCCN continues to add to the library of NCCN Chemotherapy Order Templates (NCCN Templates®) to improve the safe and effective use of drugs and biologics in cancer care by standardizing regimens, reducing medication errors, and facilitating the anticipation and management of adverse events. The NCCN Templates® are developed for regimens recommended in the NCCN Guidelines and the NCCN Compendium. The NCCN Templates include chemotherapy and immunotherapy regimens with literature support, supportive care agents, monitoring parameters, and safety instructions. Special instructions for self-administered chemotherapeutic agents are also provided.
The most important precept to keep in mind as the NCCN Guidelines and other information products are being used is that they are dynamic documents and are reviewed and updated continuously to ensure up-to-date recommendations to support the safe and effective management of cancer.
NCCN offers a number of programs and resources free of charge through the NCCN online ordering system. These programs and resources provide clinicians with access to tools and knowledge that can help guide decision-making in the management of cancer.
JNCCN is dedicated to improving the quality of cancer care locally, nationally, and internationally while enhancing the collaboration between academic medicine and the community physician. JNCCN is further committed to sharing outstanding clinical practices and insights by contributing to the creation of excellence in cancer care for more people and reporting rigorous outcomes data collected and analyzed by the experts from the world’s leading care centers.
All NCCN Content is produced completely independently. Support from industry is accepted only for distribution of independently developed content.