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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Resources for the Cancer Care Community

NCCN recognizes the rapidly changing medical information relating to COVID-19 in the oncology ecosystem, but understands that a forum for sharing best practices and specific institutional responses may be helpful to others. Therefore, we are expeditiously providing documents and recommendations developed by NCCN Member Institutions or NCCN Guideline Panels as resources for oncology care providers. These resources have not been developed or reviewed by the standard NCCN processes and are provided for informational purposes only. We will post more resources as they become available. Please check back for additional updates.

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NCCN remains committed to improving and facilitating quality, effective, efficient, and accessible cancer care so patients can live better lives under any circumstances. The organization has continued posting new updates to the NCCN Guidelines—which contain optimal recommendations for normal resource levels in the United States—while also sharing new shorter-term guidance for adjusting cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic. NCCN’s Global Program also provides guidelines to account for differing regional resource levels and non-English languages, while the NCCN Foundation provides funding for versions in nonmedical language for patients and caregivers. The NCCN Guidelines are always available free-of-charge for noncommercial use at NCCN.org (free registration required) or via the Virtual Library of NCCN Guidelines App.

NCCN Prostate Cancer Patient Guidelines Listed Among Top Global Sources for Trustworthy Online Information

A recently published study from researchers in Australia and South Africa found the NCCN Guidelines for Patients to be among the most trustworthy resources for patients and caregivers seeking information online about prostate cancer. The independent, peer-reviewed international study published in Current Urology examined the top 90 English-language Google results for medical information on prostate cancer, and measured reliability and transparency according to Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) benchmarks and DISCERN criteria from the Division of Public Health and Primary Care at Oxford University (NOTE: The full study can be found on the Current Urology website [doi.org/10.1159/000499271]. It includes a third criteria, the Switzerland-based HONcode certification, which NCCN has never applied for). The NCCN Guidelines for Patients received highest rankings in both.

“We publish the NCCN Guidelines for Patients so people with cancer and their caregivers have access to the same information as their doctors, including the latest evidence and expert consensus on the best ways to manage their cancer,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NCCN. “This knowledge is intended to empower people with cancer to take an active role in shared decision-making, ensuring their treatment plan is truly patient-centered.”

“The NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Prostate Cancer outlines essential information about diagnosis and treatment in a comprehensible format. It serves as a foundation of knowledge as patients and families begin to discuss options with their health care provider,” according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), one of 10 organizations to endorse the book, along with California Prostate Cancer Coalition (CPCC), Malecare Cancer Support, National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions (NASPCC), National Prostate Cancer Awareness Foundation (PCaAware), Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN), Urology Care Foundation, Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network, Veterans Prostate Cancer Awareness, and ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer.

In the Current Urology study, the researchers found NCCN’s patient information site met all 4 criteria for validating the quality of information it contained according to the JAMA benchmarks—one of only 15 websites to do so. Additionally, the evaluation based on the DISCERN criteria gave NCCN a score of 76 out of 80, making it the highest ranked site of the first 90 Google search results.

“These patient guidelines are intended to augment, but not replace the information patients get from their physician,” said Marcie Reeder, MPH, Executive Director, NCCN Foundation. “It can be difficult to understand complicated medical details at any time, and especially when your mind is reeling after getting a cancer diagnosis. These books give people the opportunity to absorb what’s happening to them and mentally prepare at their own pace. With so many people relying on the internet for health information, we’re proud to offer something that’s been independently validated as reliable and trustworthy. No matter where people receive their care, they can advocate for the latest and best options currently available.”

The patient guidelines site had approximately 900,000 unique visitors from all over the world in 2019. Visit NCCN.org/patients to learn more or make a donation to the NCCN Foundation to support essential resources for people with cancer.

Expert Medical Societies Release Multidisciplinary Recommendations for Breast Cancer Patient Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

The American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS), the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), the NCCN, the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons, and the American College of Radiology (ACR) have released new joint recommendations for prioritization, treatment and triage of breast cancer patients during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“As hospital resources and staff become limited, it is vital to define which breast cancer patients require urgent care and which can have delayed or alternative treatment without changing survival or risking exposure to the virus,” said Jill R. Dietz, MD, president of the ASBrS.

“The COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented challenges. These guidelines can help modify patient care to minimize exposure risk and preserve resources for patients with the most immediate need for care,” said Lawrence N. Shulman, MD, chair of the CoC.

The new recommendations categorize these patients into priority levels (A, B, C) for urgency of care across all specialties and provide treatment recommendations for each category.

  • Priority A patients have conditions that are immediately life-threatening or symptomatic, requiring urgent treatment

  • Priority B patients have conditions that do not require immediate treatment but should start treatment before the pandemic is over

  • Priority C patients have conditions for which treatment can be safely deferred until the pandemic is over

“Implementation of these recommendations, based on the highest level of available evidence, must be adapted to current resource availability and COVID-19 pandemic severity in that region,” said Scott H. Kurtzman, MD, chair of the NAPBC.

“The risk of disease progression and worse patient outcomes should be weighed against risk of patient and staff exposure to the virus,” said Debra Monticciolo, MD, FACR, president of the ACR.

“Doctors should use the recommendations to prioritize care for these patients and adapt treatment recommendations to the local context at their hospital,” said William J. Gradishar, MD, Chair of the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) Panel for Breast Cancer.

Access the new joint breast cancer patient care recommendations at NCCN.org.

Note: These new recommendations are presented in an article entitled, “Recommendations for Prioritization, Treatment and Triage of Breast Cancer Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” recently accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, a peer-reviewed journal. The link to the open access document will be provided when it is released.

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