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Back To Vidyya Revised Breast Cancer Treatment Guidelines For Patients Now Available

Updated Information From NCCN And ACS Now More Comprehensive

Breast cancer patients now have a more comprehensive resource in their fight against cancer, thanks to the commitment of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Version III of the NCCN Breast Cancer Treatment Guidelines for Patients is now available for distribution. Originally launched in March 1999, this well-received and widely distributed resource for breast cancer patients has been updated again to reflect changes to the current NCCN Breast Cancer Guidelines. Patients, family members and healthcare providers who use this resource will find more comprehensive information on sentinel lymph node biopsy, a new procedure in which dye or a radioactive substance is injected near the tumor and the first (sentinel) lymph node the dye drains into is removed and biopsied to check for tumor cells. The revised guidelines also include a new algorithm dealing with neoadjuvant therapy; treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation or hormone therapy given before surgery to help shrink some breast cancers so that surgical removal can be accomplished with a less extensive operation than would ordinarily be needed.

More detailed information regarding radiation treatment after surgery is also included. According to Judy Perotti, Director of Patient Services for Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization and a breast cancer survivor who reviewed the revised guideline, "We're seeing more and more evidence that there is a certain percentage of women [for whom radiation after surgery] is probably going to be recommended. And I know in the breast cancer world that's very new and very different -- and we certainly want women to know about that."

As with the previous versions, this valuable resource offers breast cancer patients the reliable, specific, and easy-to-understand information they need to make timely and informed decisions about this critical health issue.

Rather than having to consult numerous different sources, a wealth of information is contained in this convenient, clearly written format. In addition to the topics mentioned above, the booklet covers types of breast cancer, stages of the disease, medical decisions and treatment options, important questions for patients to discuss with their doctors, general information about clinical trials, and a glossary of terms commonly used in breast cancer treatment.

Mary Lou Smith, a breast cancer survivor and past president of Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, worked with medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, and radiation therapists from NCCN institutions on creating this important resource. "What I think that I brought to it was the patient's perspective; there are a number of aspects to that. One would be that I can say how a patient will respond or what's important to a patient," said Ms. Smith. "At some point [what treatment to have] becomes a patient decision. So the more information a woman has to be able to make that kind of critical decision in her life, I believe the better off she is."

The NCCN and ACS are committed to providing patient-friendly guidelines for the ten most common cancers and supportive care issues such as cancer pain and nausea and vomiting. Breast Cancer Treatment Guidelines for Patients was the first in this series of booklets; Prostate Cancer Treatment Guidelines for Patients and Colon and Rectal Cancer Treatment Guidelines for Patients are also available.

To obtain free copies of the patient version of the newly updated Breast Cancer Treatment Guidelines for Patients, contact the National Comprehensive Cancer Network at 888-909-NCCN or American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345. You may also visit their web sites at or For bulk orders, please contact the American Cancer Society. In addition, the American Cancer Society has Spanish-speaking Cancer Information Specialists available to assist callers around the clock, and can also provide general cancer information in Spanish.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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