For the first time ever, treatment guidelines used by oncology professionals to manage cancer pain have been translated into specific, reliable and easy-to-understand language for patients and their families. Today, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) announced the availability of their first supportive care patient guidelines, Cancer Pain Treatment Guidelines for Patients.
The cancer pain guidelines are based on the review of published research
on cancer pain by an interdisciplinary panel of experts from the 19 member
institutions of the NCCN including Fox Chase Cancer Center, a founding member
of the Network. The treatment options are presented as flow charts, which
were developed by oncologists from different disciplines. The decision trees
include the assessment of cancer-related pain, initial treatment for pain and
The guidelines illustrate several appropriate options for care based on
the results of scientific evidence, clinical experience, medical judgment and
a patient's personal preference. The booklet also explains what pain is, its
causes, obstacles to cancer pain relief, pain assessment tools and offers
patient and family education.
"The ACS/NCCN patient guidelines empower patients and their family by
helping them ask the right questions, understand their treatment options, and
participate fully in their care," said John Welch, M.D., president of the
American Cancer Society, Pennsylvania Division. "With these guidelines at
their fingertips, patients and their families can follow the same guidelines
that their doctors are using."
Pain can affect a patient in many ways. It can cause a reduction in
activity, prevent sleep, and inhibit eating. Pain can also make a patient
feel afraid and depressed. About one-third of the cancer patients in the U.S.
suffer from significant pain. More than two-thirds of patients with advanced
cancer have pain.
"Not all patients realize that there are options in managing side effects
of cancer and its treatment including pain," said Michael Levy, M.D., Ph.D.,
vice-chairman of the Medical Oncology Department at Fox Chase Cancer Center
and director of its Supportive Oncology Program. "Many times, patients
believe pain is simply something they have to live with and not question.
That's not so. We hope that these guideline will encourage patients and their
families to talk to their nurse or physician right away about relieving pain
before it becomes severe."
The NCCN/ACS Cancer Pain Treatment Guidelines for Patients is one of a
series developed by the NCCN/ACS partnership. NCCN and ACS plan to provide
guidelines in this format for the 10 most common cancers, with lung cancer,
bladder cancer, ovarian cancer and non-melanoma skin cancer scheduled for
release in the next year. Treatment guidelines for patients have also been
written for breast, prostate, and colon cancer. The pain management
guidelines will be available in Spanish later this month.
To order a free copy of NCCN/ACS Cancer Pain Treatment Guidelines for
Patients or any of the other NCCN patient guidelines, contact the National
Comprehensive Cancer Network (1-888-909-NCCN) or the American Cancer Society
(1-800-ACS-2345). The ACS has Spanish-speaking cancer information specialists
who can respond to cancer related inquiries. You may also visit their web
sites at http://www.nccn.org or http://www.cancer.org. Requests by email may be made to firstname.lastname@example.org. Vidyya readers may read the guidelines in today's issue.