National Comprehensive Cancer Network

About NCCN

Advancing Cancer Care around the World

By Rachel Darwin, Public Relations Manager, NCCN

CEO Robert Carlson, MD shares NCCN’s vision overseas

Over the past three months, National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Robert Carlson, has set foot in four different continents and both coasts of North America. His travels are part of increasing efforts to acknowledge the important role NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®), play across the planet, with nearly half of the million-plus registered users hailing from outside the United States. More than that, NCCN is always striving to improve resources. Dr. Carlson believes the best way to make NCCN Guidelines® more useful is to literally meet people where they live and work, and learn first-hand about the specific circumstances of their region, from drug regulations to social considerations.

In November, Dr. Carlson participated in the presentation of the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for Sub-Saharan Africa at a standing-room-only session during the African Organisation for Research & Training in Cancer (AORTIC) meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. The conference opened with remarks from Jeannette Kagame, the First Lady of Rwanda.

Hundreds of medical professionals from across Africa, and elsewhere, converged to learn about this new resource, based on the NCCN Guidelines, and co-created with the African Cancer Coalition (ACC). Local experts rightfully took clear ownership of the materials, which present an array of options for cancer care targeted for various resource levels. The enthusiastic crowd members had a key question after the presentations: how can I get involved?

Creating the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ was truly a team effort, which also included collaboration with the American Cancer Society, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, a technology company and several drug manufacturers. The African Cancer Coalition itself represents more than 40 oncologists and health ministers from 12 different countries. The people involved were knowledgeable, devoted, and eager to play their part in this collective effort, and to keep moving it forward. Additional NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ will be released in 2018, including colon/rectal; esophageal/gastric; head/neck: lip, oral, and oropharynx cancers; antiemesis; and survivorship/wellness.

In addition to traveling to Africa, Dr. Carlson was in Madrid, Spain in early September for the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) conference. One week later, he was in Beijing, China for the International Forum for Quality Cancer Care, hosted by Oxford University. Moreover, in mid-November, he took part in the India Cancer Congress in Bengaluru, where he met with Dr. GK Rath, head of India’s National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Carlson’s favorite part from all his travels is getting to meet and interact with so many brilliant, passionate professionals. Each conference provided the opportunity to forge new connections and reinforce partnerships with familiar faces. A common message emerged in each destination: NCCN Guidelines and their derivatives are providing an important bedrock to improve quality and efficiency for cancer-fighting organizations worldwide.

Next up, Dr. Carlson heads to Rome, Italy, and then he’s off to the Israeli Society for Clinical Oncology and Radiation Therapy (ISCORT) Annual Meeting in Eilat. The more globally NCCN Guidelines are recognized and utilized, the greater the responsibility to make sure they are helpful, accurate, and accessible to all. It is all part of NCCN’s mission to help patients live better lives, wherever they may live.