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George M. Rodgers III, Pamela Sue Becker, Morey Blinder, David Cella, Asher Chanan-Khan, Charles Cleeland, Peter F. Coccia, Benjamin Djulbegovic, Jeffrey A. Gilreath, Eric H. Kraut, Ursula A. Matulonis, Michael M. Millenson, Denise Reinke, Joseph Rosenthal, Rowena N. Schwartz, Gerald Soff, Richard S. Stein, Gordana Vlahovic and Alva B. Weir III

Anemia is prevalent in 30% to 90% of patients with cancer. Anemia can be corrected through either treating the underlying cause or providing supportive care through transfusion with packed red blood cells or administration of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs), with or without iron supplementation. Recent studies showing detrimental health effects of ESAs sparked a series of FDA label revisions and a sea change in the perception of these once commonly used agents. In light of this, the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) for Cancer- and Chemotherapy-Induced Anemia underwent substantial revisions this year. The purpose of these NCCN Guidelines is twofold: 1) to operationalize the evaluation and treatment of anemia in adult cancer patients, with an emphasis on those who are receiving concomitant chemotherapy, and 2) to enable patients and clinicians to individualize anemia treatment options based on patient condition.

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Andrew D. Zelenetz, Islah Ahmed, Edward Louis Braud, James D. Cross, Nancy Davenport-Ennis, Barry D. Dickinson, Steven E. Goldberg, Scott Gottlieb, Philip E. Johnson, Gary H. Lyman, Richard Markus, Ursula A. Matulonis, Denise Reinke, Edward C. Li, Jessica DeMartino, Jonathan K. Larsen and James M. Hoffman

Biologics are essential to oncology care. As patents for older biologics begin to expire, the United States is developing an abbreviated regulatory process for the approval of similar biologics (biosimilars), which raises important considerations for the safe and appropriate incorporation of biosimilars into clinical practice for patients with cancer. The potential for biosimilars to reduce the cost of biologics, which are often high-cost components of oncology care, was the impetus behind the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, a part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. In March 2011, NCCN assembled a work group consisting of thought leaders from NCCN Member Institutions and other organizations, to provide guidance regarding the challenges health care providers and other key stakeholders face in incorporating biosimilars in health care practice. The work group identified challenges surrounding biosimilars, including health care provider knowledge, substitution practices, pharmacovigilance, naming and product tracking, coverage and reimbursement, use in off-label settings, and data requirements for approval.

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Saul N. Weingart, Elizabeth Brown, Peter B. Bach, Kirby Eng, Shirley A. Johnson, Timothy M. Kuzel, Terry S. Langbaum, R. Donald Leedy, Raymond J. Muller, Lee N. Newcomer, Susan O’Brien, Denise Reinke, Mark Rubino, Leonard Saltz and Ronald S. Walters

Oral chemotherapy is emerging as a new option for well-selected patients who can manage potentially complex oral regimens and self-monitor for potential complications. If a choice between oral and parenteral therapy is available, patients may opt for oral chemotherapy because it is more convenient to administer, allows them to avoid multiple office visits, and gives them a sense of control over their own cancer care. Whether these potential advantages are maintained in regimens that combine oral and parenteral drugs is less clear. The use of oral chemotherapeutic agents profoundly affects all aspects of oncology, including creating significant safety and adherence issues, shifting some traditional roles and responsibilities of oncologists, nurses, and pharmacists to patients and caregivers. The financing of chemotherapy is also affected. To address these issues, the NCCN convened a multidisciplinary task force consisting of oncologists, nurses, pharmacists, and payor representatives to discuss the impact of the increasing use of oral chemotherapy. (JNCCN 2008;6[Suppl 3]:S1–S14)