February 4, 2020, marks the 20th annual World Cancer Day. On this day, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®)—a nonprofit alliance of leading cancer centers—is commemorating its 25th anniversary year by looking back at the tremendous progress made against cancer over the past quarter-century and looking forward to further define and advance high-quality, high-value, patient-centered cancer care globally. Earlier this year, the American Cancer Society (ACS) announced that the cancer death rate has dropped 29% in the United States since 1991. However, cancer is still the second-leading cause of death worldwide, according to the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC), whose newly-released report from the International Public Opinion Survey on Cancer 2020: What people feel, think, and believe about cancer today indicates a clear divide between higher and lower socioeconomic groups when it comes to awareness of cancer risks and how to mitigate them.
The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) are free resources that help raise standards for cancer care worldwide. The evidence-based, consensus-driven recommendations are intended to ensure that all patients receive the preventive, diagnostic, treatment, and supportive services that are most likely to lead to optimal outcomes. They were downloaded more than 11 million times across the globe in 2019; an increase of more than a million over the previous year. NCCN Guidelines® are the most thorough and frequently-updated medical guidelines available, and have expanded to now cover 76 different topics, including cancer types that account for over 97% all cancer cases, plus supportive care such as distress, pain, smoking cessation, immunotherapy-related toxicity, and many others.
“Remarkable progress has been made in the fight against cancer,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, NCCN’s Chief Executive Officer (who appears in the World Cancer Day “20 Leaders 1 Question” video series). “In the past year, NCCN launched two new pediatric cancer guidelines in response to the nearly 90% survival rates for childhood leukemias and lymphomas that seemed untreatable just a few decades ago. We also see progress reflected in the growing need for improving the survivorship experience, and in ongoing efforts to tailor cancer treatments to each specific patient. Unfortunately, there are still too many places where optimal treatment recommendations aren’t being followed or can’t be followed due to a lack of resources. Our goal, today and every day is to make high-quality cancer care accessible to everybody.”
One way NCCN is addressing disparities is through the publication of NCCN Guidelines for Patients®, patient-friendly versions of the clinical guidelines which empower people with cancer and their caregivers with free, unbiased guidance from the world’s leading cancer experts. They are supported by the NCCN Foundation. In honor of World Cancer Day, NCCN is working to publish a new book for people with cervical cancer. Cervical cancer has the 4th highest cancer incidence in women worldwide, with the highest incidence and mortality in predominantly resource-constrained regions of the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa (where NCCN recently helped launch Allied Against Cancer, with the African Cancer Coalition, ACS, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and IBM. Ongoing work includes the creation and publication of a library of NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™). Visit NCCN.org/wcd to learn more about, and share in, the ongoing efforts.
NCCN is also addressing the treatment and prevention of HPV-related cancers (including cervical cancer) during the NCCN 2020 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida on March 20-22. Julie Torode, PhD, Director of Special Projects for UICC will participate in a keynote session titled “Strategies for Prevention and Control of HPV-Associated Cancers.” The panel will discuss the benefits of vaccination and explain how to incorporate appropriate screening and treatment strategies for HPV-associated cancers. Visit NCCN.org/conference for the full conference agenda, which also includes sessions on guidelines updates, biomarkers, biosimilars, hereditary cancer risks, smoking cessation, and a roundtable discussion on cancer care during an election year.
“To tackle the global cancer burden now and for the future, governments and decision-makers across the international cancer community must come together to ensure that everyone is afforded every opportunity to take control over their cancer risk—no matter their education or income level,” said UICC President HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, in a statement for World Cancer Day.