NEW YORK--As reported last month in ONI , 13 of the leading cancer centers in the United States have formed a national alliance-- the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)--to develop and institute standards of care for the treatment of cancer and to perform outcomes research.
The network is also a joint business venture that is developing programs to provide cancer prevention and care for large employers and third-party payers, Joseph Simone, MD, medical director of the NCCN, said at a press conference.
According to Dr. Simone, physician-in-chief, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, such standards, while constantly changing as new knowledge accrues, may come to be viewed as the "gold standard" of cancer treatments.
All 13 NCCN participants are in the process of developing partnerships with community hospitals and oncologists in their respective geographical regions. (See story about the community network developed at the City of Hope National Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif.)
Because of the geographical distribution of the network's cancer centers, patients will not have to travel as far to receive appropriate care, said Dr. Charles Balch, executive vice president for health affairs, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
He pointed out that such flexibility is possible because the member institutions have pledged to maintain common standards of care, common outcomes reporting, and standard pricing structures.