About Clinical Practice Guidelines

Over the past 25 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 the recognized standard for clinical direction and policy in cancer care and are the most thorough and frequently updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine. 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 improving patient care and 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 NCCN Guidelines contain the following components:

  • listing of panel members providing institutional affiliations and specialties;
  • algorithms or flowcharts to provide guidance for clinical decision-making process;
  • discussion text describing the data and clinical information that supports the recommendations in the algorithms;
  • listing of references providing the evidence for the recommendations; and
  • disclosure of potential conflicts of interest of panel members and NCCN headquarters staff.

The NCCN Guidelines are developed and updated by 61 individual panels, comprising over 1,700 clinicians and oncology researchers from the 33 NCCN Member Institutions. These panel members are multidisciplinary, disease- and issue-specific subspecialists who are clinicians, researchers, and advocates. 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.