The NCCN patient guidelines have “come of age”

Over the past weekend, we were able to review the most recent update to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s guidelines on treatment of prostate cancer for patients. It is our considered opinion that this booklet is now among the very best basic introductions to prostate cancer management for any newly diagnosed patient and his family.

Version 1:2015 of the NCCN Guidelines for Patients | Prostate Cancer is still not a perfect document. For example:

  • Detailed information about active surveillance and watchful waiting as management strategies is limited.
  • There is still no reference to focal therapy for men with small amounts of low- or intermediate-risk, localized prostate cancer.
  • There is no discussion of intermittent androgen deprivation therapy as a strategy in the management of M0 or M1 disease.

However, as a whole this 100-page booklet now provides the newly diagnosed patient and his family with a very thorough introductory overview of the management of prostate cancer. It is neutral in its views about the different types of therapy. It is freely available on line. And it gets updated on a regular basis.

It has taken the NCCN a while to work out how to adapt the detailed guidance it makes available to physicians and communicate effectively for the patient community. Initially, this was not a strength of the NCCN. However, NCCN appears to have taken some initial criticism to heart and made some very sincere efforts to improve the information it is now making available for patients — and patients with prostate cancer in particular.

The newest set of guidelines does, for example, include information on:

  • MRI/TRUS fusion biopsy
  • Molecular testing (e.g., with the Prolaris and Oncotype DX tests)
  • Proton beam radiation therapy
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy
  • Cryotherapy (as a second line treatment for men with recurrence after first-line radiation therapy)
  • Treatments needing more research (e.g., high-intensity focused ultrasound and vascular targeted photodynamic therapy)

It also includes an entire section on “Questions to ask your doctor” which is extremely useful for newly diagnosed patients.

Last but by no means least, it makes it very clear for patients why making decisions about appropriate treatment for individual cases of prostate cancer can be so hard — for all concerned.

2 Responses

  1. The NCCN Guidelines for treatment of prostate cancer — written for physicians — is no less well put together (but it is a lot more complicated). That document is available if you sign up for membership at the NCCN website. I believe that proactive patients should request a copy.

  2. Just a note. The new patient guidelines can be downloaded at the link the Sitemaster provided. It’s better than the viewing system provided at that link I think. Plus, you can always have it with you when you visit your physician.

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