Updated Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccination From NCCN Recommends Fifth mRNA Shot (Second Booster Dose) for Immunocompromised People
On April 27th, 2022, NCCN released the latest recommendations from the NCCN Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis. The frequently updated guidance, along with other important information on COVID-19 and cancer, is available for free at NCCN.org/covid-19.
“This guidance is intended to let cancer care providers know not only what they can do, but also what they should do, according to experts across the United States,” said Brahm Segal, MD, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Co-Leader of the NCCN Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis.
The NCCN Advisory Committee is comprised of leading multidisciplinary physicians from across NCCN Member Institutions, with particular expertise in infectious diseases, vaccine development and delivery, cancer management, and medical ethics. The group first published guidance on vaccinating people with cancer against COVID-19 in January 2021 and has published numerous updates since then. The recommendations reflect the policies that have already been put in place in many of the country’s top academic cancer centers.
The latest update includes:
• Clarification that the primary mRNA vaccination series for immunocompromised people is considered 3 shots—this essentially includes most patients with active cancer or a recent history of cancer. The primary series remains 2 shots for people who are not immunocompromised.
• Recommendations for 2 booster doses for people who are immunocompromised (meaning 3 primary mRNA doses plus 2 booster doses).
• Detailed information on how the primary series and booster definition and number differs for people who initially received the JNJ-78436735 vaccine.
• Updated dosing recommendations for pre-exposure prevention with tixagevimab plus cligavimab (also referred to as monoclonal antibodies or mAbs) for people with cancer; this treatment should not be viewed as a substitution for vaccination.
• Updated data on mixing mRNA vaccine types, which is now considered to have similar effectiveness compared to using the same vaccine type.
The committee continues to recommend that household members and other close contacts of people with cancer should get vaccinated according their CDC-determined eligibility.
“Bottom line, we want to share COVID-19 recommendations that are simple and useful,” said committee Co-Leader Lindsey R. Baden, MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and an Infectious Diseases specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “We know a lot more about COVID-19 and the vaccines now, and we can use that knowledge to minimize the confusion and enhance the protection we can offer to our immunocompromised patients.”
All of NCCN’s recommendations for cancer care during the pandemic can be found at NCCN.org/covid-19. A patient and caregiver guide to vaccinations is also available at NCCN.org/patientguidelines.
New Cancer Information Resources for People of Ukraine From NCCN
NCCN joins the global plea for peace in Ukraine and recognizes the profound impact to cancer care. As an organization whose mission is to improve cancer care globally, NCCN stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. As part of that support, NCCN is providing free, Ukrainian-language cancer treatment information guides at NCCN.org/Ukraine.
“Our heart goes out to the people of Ukraine during this unjust invasion and humanitarian crisis,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NCCN. “War not only threatens people’s immediate safety, it also makes it much harder to provide necessary healthcare, including essential cancer care. We hope these Ukrainian-language treatment guides can offer some help to patients, their caregivers, and their providers during this difficult time.”
The NCCN resources include 15 newly translated NCCN Guidelines for Patients featuring patient-friendly, evidence-based, expert information on the following 9 topics in cancer care:
• Breast Cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ, invasive, and metastatic)
• Cervical Cancer
• Colon Cancer
• Distress Management
• Head & Neck Cancers (nasopharyngeal, oral, and oropharyngeal)
• Lung Cancer (early and metastatic)
• Lymphomas (diffuse large B-cell)
• Ovarian Cancer
• Prostate Cancer (early and advanced)
The English-language versions of these patient guidelines are based on the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines)—the recognized standard for clinical direction and policy in cancer care and the most thorough and frequently updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine. The patient versions are presented in an easy-to-read format via funding from the NCCN Foundation, to help patients better understand their cancer care, especially when crossing geographic borders and receiving care in different settings.
“As hard as it is to endure an invasion, it can be even harder for people with cancer who have additional, urgent medical concerns,” said Nelya Melnitchouk, MD, Global Medical Knowledge Alliance (GMKA). “This Ukrainian-language information can help people with cancer and their healthcare providers understand where they are in their treatment journey and how to adapt their next steps in changing circumstances.”
“NCCN joins numerous organizations around the world that are answering the call to support Ukrainian cancer patients, their doctors, and their families,” said Mike Morrissey, Chief Executive, European Cancer Organisation (ECO). “We’ve gathered translated resources from many different medical and patient organizations in one place at onco-help.org, so the people who need this information can access it quickly and easily.”
NCCN’s resource site builds on longstanding work and ongoing partnerships worldwide to also provide adapted and stratified versions of cancer guidelines that can help healthcare providers identify treatment options to provide the best possible outcomes in resource-constrained or conflict settings, among other unique regional concerns.
NCCN pledges to continue supporting the people of Ukraine by continuously updating the information at NCCN.org/Ukraine and on the NCCN apps. More resources are coming soon.
NCCN Announces Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center as 32nd Member Institution
On April 4, 2022, NCCN announced Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center will be joining the not-for-profit alliance of leading cancer centers as the 32nd Member Institution. NCCN was founded by 13 original Member Institutions in 1995 and has grown steadily over the years. The 32 NCCN Member Institutions serve people with cancer (or risk of cancer) from diverse regions and demographics, always staying at the forefront for research and patient care.
“The IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center is the perfect addition to our growing network—and our only Member Institution in the state of Indiana,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NCCN. “The center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement works with partner organizations around the state to improve the health of all, especially in underrepresented populations. They also have international reach, including work in western Kenya with an underserved population of more than 18 million people, that has been called a model for addressing global cancer disparities and health equity by the National Cancer Institute.”
IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center is Indiana’s sole NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center and is home to the world’s only healthy breast tissue bank serving as a resource to investigators around the world. The center has been involved in ground-breaking work in finding a cure for testicular cancer and pioneering cord blood transplantation. It is responsible for more than 130,000 adult outpatient visits each year; is a site for more than 300 active clinical trials at any time; and provides training for nearly 2,000 students, residents, and fellows every year.
“We are thrilled to become a member of NCCN,” Kelvin Lee, MD, Director of the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, said. “We look forward to sharing our expertise with NCCN and collaborating with many of the nation’s leading cancer centers, which will ultimately benefit patients.”
By joining NCCN, IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center will have a role in determining the recognized standard for clinical direction and policy in cancer management, by contributing to the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines). The center will appoint expert clinicians to serve on more than 60 interdisciplinary panels responsible for maintaining the most frequently-updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine. The 83 different subject-specific NCCN Guidelines cover 97% of cancer incidences in the United States, plus additional topics like screening, prevention, genetic/familial risk, supportive care, distress, and survivorship. NCCN Guidelines are available free for noncommercial use at NCCN.org or via the Virtual Library of NCCN Guidelines app. The recommendations are also used to create versions accessible to patients and caregivers in the library of NCCN Guidelines for Patients and adapted for different languages and resource levels via NCCN International Adaptations and Translations and other global resources.
Prior to becoming part of NCCN, IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center joined 75 other centers, associations, and advocacy organizations as part of NCCN’s campaign with the American Cancer Society to encourage the safe resumption of cancer screening following a dangerous decline at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more at NCCN.org/resume-screening.
UT Southwestern’s Dr. John Sweetenham Elected Board Chair for National Comprehensive Cancer Network
NCCN has announced the election of John W. Sweetenham, MD, FRCP, to the role of Chair of the Board of Directors and Matt Kalaycio, MD, as Vice Chair.
“People all over the world look to NCCN for guidance on providing high-quality, evidence-based, expert-consensus cancer treatment. Our internationally respected leaders enable us to continue to earn that trust every day,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, CEO, NCCN. “It has been my privilege to work closely with John and Matt over the years as they help define and advance quality, effective, equitable, and accessible cancer care so all patients can live better lives. We are honored to have them overseeing our board of directors, which includes members from 32 leading academic cancer centers across the United States.”
Dr. Sweetenham is Professor of Medicine and Associate Director for Clinical Affairs at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas. His primary area of clinical interest is in malignant lymphomas. He has recently served as a member of the NCCN Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.
“NCCN’s work helps improve outcomes and experiences for people with cancer in many ways, from setting standards for care, to facilitating and sharing new research, and more,” said Dr. Sweetenham. “I’ve been involved with NCCN in different capacities over the years and am glad for the opportunity to help guide the organization toward even greater successes against cancer in the future.”
Dr. Kalaycio is Vice Chairman at Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute and holds a joint appointment in Cleveland Clinic’s Transplant Center. His clinical interests are in leukemia and stem cell transplantation and his research focuses on finding new treatments for leukemia. Dr. Kalaycio is the editor of a book on leukemia and co-editor of a book on clinical malignant hematology, in addition to numerous scientific publications.
“I look forward to helping guide NCCN as it continues to refine how best to support people with cancer worldwide,” said Dr. Kalaycio. “The pace of innovation in cancer care can be relentless. By freely providing expert recommendations in the most frequently updated clinical practice guidelines available, we help to ensure equitable access to the latest advances in cancer care.”
Treasurer Patrick J. O’Brien, MBA, from Fox Chase Cancer Center, and Secretary Rebecca L. Caires, MBA, from Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, will both remain in their positions as officers of the NCCN Board of Directors.
NCCN Foundation Announces Awards for Rising Cancer Research Leaders
NCCN and the NCCN Foundation has announced 7 recipients for the 2022 NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Awards (YIA) Program. The honorees will each receive up to $150,000 in funding, over 2 years, to advance research on important issues in oncology. These early career investigators from NCCN Member Institutions represent tomorrow’s leaders for advancing cancer care. The NCCN Oncology Research Program (ORP) managed the selection process and will provide guidance and oversight for the projects over the grant duration.
“As a former Young Investigator Award recipient myself, I know how important funding in the early years of one’s career can be. I have seen past YIA investigators go on to make meaningful and lasting contributions to the oncology community,” said Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, Senior Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer, NCCN. “These awardees are chosen for being some of the best up-and-coming cancer researchers. NCCN celebrates all of the impressive investigators selected.”
The 2022 NCCN Foundation YIA recipients are:
• Abhishek Chakraborty, PhD, Cleveland Clinic/Case Comprehensive Cancer Center
• Functional in Vivo Genetic Screens Identify Oncogenic Vulnerabilities in Kidney Cancer
• Christos Fountzilas, MD, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
• Novel Combination Therapy for Colorectal and Esophagogastric Cancers
• Zachary Frosch, MD, MSHP, Fox Chase Cancer Center
• Developing Patient-Centered Strategies to Improve Equitable Access to Cellular Therapies
• Chad Tang, MD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
• Spatial Evolution of Immune Cell Dysfunction During Development of Oligometastatic RCC and its Perturbation by Radiation Therapy
• Ana I. Tergas, MD, MPH, City of Hope
• Genetic Ancestry, Cervical Cancer Outcomes, and Prevalence of Homologous DNA Repair Deficiency in a Diverse Multi-ethnic Population
• Richard Tobin, PhD, University of Colorado Cancer Center
• Enhancing MAIT Cell Antitumor Activity by Epigenetic Priming in Mucosal Melanoma
• Shuang (George) Zhao, MD, MS, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center
• Liquid Biomarkers of Response to Radium-223 in Metastatic Prostate Cancer
“As part of NCCN’s commitment to elevating cancer equity, our Young Investigator Awards include a designated category for disparities research that we are proud to support,” said Patrick Delaney, Executive Director, NCCN Foundation. “NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Award recipients make important contributions to treatment innovation and advancement for people with cancer. We are eager to see where the research from this year’s recipients takes the field.”
The research from these 7 recipients will be presented during the NCCN 2024 Annual Conference. Recipients of the 2020 NCCN Young Investigator Awards recently presented their research virtually during the NCCN 2022 Annual Conference; those abstracts are now available at JNCCN.org, the online home of JNCCN.
The NCCN Foundation has awarded more than $9.7 million since 2011 through the YIA program, to a total of 66 researchers.
The NCCN ORP fosters innovation and knowledge discovery that improves the lives of people with cancer and supports preclinical, translational, and clinical research and quality improvement projects in oncology at NCCN Member Institutions. In an effort to improve collaboration in cancer research, the NCCN ORP also maintains a shared resources website and an informed consent database. For more information on these and other collaborative cancer research projects, see NCCN.org/orp.
To learn more about the 2022 NCCN Foundation Young Investigator Awards or to make a donation to the NCCN Foundation, visit NCCN.org/Foundation. This year’s awards were made possible through support from AbbVie, ADVI, Amgen, Inc., AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck & Co., Inc., Pfizer Inc., Pharmacyclics, An AbbVie Company, and Sanofi Genzyme.