What Is the NCCN and Why You Should Download Their Treatment Guidelines

by Jane Ashley

Many cancer patients have never heard of the NCCN.


So what is the NCCN? And why is it important to me? The NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network) is a coalition of 27 prominent cancer centers committed to patient care and cancer research to improve the quality and effectiveness of care.

You may think this means meetings and conferences just for oncologists, surgeons and other cancer treatment specialists. But the NCCN is committed to improving care on a day-to-day basis whether the patient goes to a large, urban cancer treatment center or a small hospital cancer treatment center in a rural area.

The NCCN provides up-to-date Clinical Guidelines (treatment recommendations for every cancer stage down to genetic mutation recommendations) for over 30 kinds of cancer.

How to Download the NCCN Guidelines

Some patients believe that the NCCN Clinical Guidelines are meant for physicians only. NCCN has a “patients only” section where every cancer patient can download the treatment guidelines for their type of cancer. There is no charge – all you have to do is visit their website. At the top of the page in small print, click on the second link that says: Visit the NCCN Patient Site. No registration is required.

Simply click on the NCCN Guidelines for Patients. There, you’ll find a drop-down menu where you select the type of cancer you have. You can view it online or download a PDF version. I recommend downloading the PDF because the guidelines are complex. You can read it and refer back to it when your oncologist recommends a particular treatment. Don’t be intimidated by the use of medical terms and the medical names of the chemotherapies – there is a Dictionary of medical terms and acronyms at the end of the PDF so that you can begin to learn the terms that you will hear during your treatment.

What Is Nccn

The best way to describe these guidelines is to think of them as a textbook entitled Breast Cancer 101 or Colon Cancer 101. Everything that you need to know is contained in these guidelines. For example, the Rectal Cancer Guide is 94 pages. Breast Cancer, Stages II and III contain 114 pages. The Multiple Myeloma is 78 pages long. If you have a printer, you might want to print the entire Guideline out as your “go-to” reference book.

What information is contained in the Guidelines?

*The Basics describes your particular kind of cancer and the stages.
*The second part contains information about the tests used to diagnose the stage of cancer and any genetic mutations you have.
*The third section provides an overview of treatments from chemotherapy to surgery to radiation therapy and includes information about the *Emerging fields of immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
*The fourth segment delves into the treatment options for the different stages of your cancer type.
*The final section is designed to help patients make treatment choices and talk to their doctors.

Nccn Patient Site

NCCN has compiled a comprehensive 24-page Reimbursement Guide for patients to help them apply for financial assistance for the oncology drugs they need. Download today to learn what copay assistance may be available for you.

A mobile app is available for both Android and iOS phone. These were designed to help patients talk with their doctor about their treatment options.

The NCCN Guideline is the most comprehensive way that you can educate yourself about your cancer. Be proactive and learn so that you can advocate for yourself.

Join the conversation about the NCCN with this question about it, and how people at WhatNext are using it to keep educated and advocate for their own treatment.

See how WhatNext can help you through your cancer fight

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