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Back To Vidyya American Cancer Society And National Comprehensive Cancer Network Develop New Pain Treatment Guidelines

New Patient Guidelines Help Patients And Physicians Discuss Options

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 subsequent treatment.

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 or Requests by email may be made to Vidyya readers may read the guidelines in today's issue.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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