On March 15, 2013, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) released its new NCCN Survivorship Guidelines. These guidelines were developed using the NCCN evidence-based process in which expert panels integrate comprehensive clinical and scientific data with the judgment of the multidisciplinary panel members and other experts drawn from NCCN Member Institutions. For both clinicians involved in survivorship care and cancer survivors themselves, this new guidance is a game changer.
The new NCCN Survivorship Guidelines cover eight distinct areas of care: anxiety and depression, cognitive function, exercise, fatigue, immunizations and infections, pain, sexual function, and sleep disorders. Additionally, a sample assessment tool with two to three questions on each of the eight key criteria is included.
As LIVESTRONG Foundation is committed to improving the care of survivors, we are thrilled that the NCCN has addressed such an important issue. While only one patient advocate representative participated in this process, LIVESTRONG was well represented through our partners in the LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence Network (Network) who participated on the NCCN panels to ensure that the voice of the patient advocate community was included. Mary McCabe, Network Director at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, is a NCCN Survivorship Panel member, as well as a member of a writing sub-committee. Two other Network Directors, K. Scott Baker and Karen Syrjala of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, participated as sub-committee members. These Network Directors and others led the Foundation’s project that established the LIVESTRONG Essential Elements of Survivorship Care: a consensus-based set of recommendations for elements of care that should be included in any survivorship program. These Essential Elements are referenced in the new NCCN Survivorship Guidelines.
Network Director Mary McCabe reports, “These new guidelines begin to address a huge unmet need and address the frequently asked questions – how do we identify and treat the most common problems faced by cancer survivors and their families? This information is a critically important step toward providing the needed guidance for oncology clinicians and primary care physicians as they work to provide comprehensive, quality care.”
It is our hope that the providers following these guidelines will utilize LIVESTRONG Foundation resources, including LIVESTRONG’s free navigation services and evidence-based survivorship programs such as LIVESTRONG at the YMCA. We will do our best this coming year to make sure this happens.
Sarah. R. Arvey, PhD
Program Director, Research & Evaluation
Mary McCabe, RN, MA
Director, Survivorship Program
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center