NCCN Guidelines for Blood Cancer Patients

Patient Version of Guidelines to Include NHL Subtypes

Doctor and patient reviewing new information about treatment options. Credit: Dan Dalton / Getty Images

For doctors, guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) are a known quantity. With regular updates on recommended cancer management, treatment recommendations are widely anticipated and viewed with interest.

Patients with leukemia and lymphoma may not be as familiar with the NCCN and its resources, but that is about to change.

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

The NCCN Guidelines for Patients are translations of the NCCN clinical guidelines, so they are meant to help patients with cancer talk with their physicians about the best treatment options for their disease.

In other words, they are in plain English, and all of the medical jargon is spelled out so that it’s not like reading "word salad."

The organization lists a number of "selling points" for these resources, despite the fact that that patients can access them free of charge:

  • They had over 4 million page views online over the span of a year.
  • Patients and caregivers overwhelmingly agree that NCCN Guidelines for Patients are understandable, informative, and helpful.
  • Users feel empowered after reading them.

The NCCN has found that patients accessing these guidelines are looking for information that is related to the following categories:

  • 55 percent – general disease
  • 40 percent – chemotherapy
  • 26 percent – radiation therapy
  • 25 percent – surgery
  • 24 percent – biological therapy
  • 21 percent – other

NCCN Patient Guidelines on Blood Cancer

The organization has produced patient guidelines on chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL, as the first in a series of resources dedicated to patient education on Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas, or NHLs.

Why is CLL – a leukemia – part of their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma resources, you may wonder? Well, although CLL has leukemia in its name, it may also be considered a type of NHL – small lymphocytic lymphoma, or SLL. CLL and SLL are birds of a feather in that they are both cancers of the same lymphocyte white blood cells – they just get different names depending on whether the cancer is primarily found in the bloodstream and bone marrow (leukemia) or in the lymph nodes (lymphoma).

The plan, according to the NCCN, is to eventually create resources outlining treatment options for additional non-Hodgkin's lymphoma types, including each of the following:

To access NCCN patient guidelines, visit: www.nccn.org/patients.
Guidelines for Patients and the NCCN Quick Guide series do not replace the expertise and clinical judgment of the physician.

The two main categories of lymphoma are Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In addition to kicking off the NHL patient guidelines above, the NCCN has also developed patient educational materials for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The NCCN Guidelines for Patients and NCCN Quick Guide series for Hodgkin's lymphoma have been broken out into three separate sections to provide users with information most pertinent to their diagnosis:

  • treatment overview
  • classical Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma

The NCCN Patient Guideline Repertoire

Patient guidelines are not entirely new to the NCCN; rather it's the development of dedicated guidelines for different types of NHL that is new. NCCN currently offers Guidelines for Patients for the following "solid tumor" cancers:

  • breast
  • colon
  • esophageal
  • kidney
  • non-small cell lung
  • ovarian
  • pancreatic
  • prostate

Guidelines for Patients are also currently available for the following:

  • acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • chronic myelogenous leukemia
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • melanoma
  • multiple myeloma
  • soft tissue sarcoma

About the NCCN

The NCCN, a not-for-profit alliance of 26 of the world’s leading cancer centers, is dedicated to improving the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of care for patients with cancer. Through the leadership and expertise of clinical professionals at NCCN Member Institutions, NCCN develops resources that present valuable information to the numerous stakeholders in the health care delivery system.

The core resources made available by NCCN are the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. These guidelines are the recognized standard for clinical policy in oncology and are the most comprehensive and most frequently updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine.

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