NEW YORKWhen cancer patients go to the Internet for information on their disease, they are often overwhelmed by the thousands of sources available. The new Prostate Cancer Treatment Guidelines for Patients, issued jointly by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), is an attempt to give patients a structure for processing information, said Rodger Winn, MD, of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and a key player in the NCCN guidelines development. The NCCN is an alliance of 17 of the nations leading cancer centers.
The prostate cancer patient guidelines follow the breast cancer patient guidelines introduced by the two organizations last March. Both are a user-friendly, understandable version of the NCCNs guidelines for physicians, William T. McGivney, PhD, CEO of the NCCN, said at a teleconference to introduce the prostate guidelines.
LaMar McGinnis, Jr., MD, past president of the American Cancer Society and clinical professor of surgery, Emory University, said that when a patient learns of a cancer diagnosis, the big C word blots out most of the retention of information given by the physician. Its estimated that patients retain only 20% of the information given at that time.
Once over the initial shock, patients seek information from a variety of sources. We wanted to bring together one focused treatment guideline that prostate cancer patients could have in hand or online to refer to, to help them make a treatment decision with their health care provider, Dr. McGinnis said.
Rather than develop their own guidelines, the ACS decided to supply guidelines from other sources, adapted for patients. The NCCN guidelines were the first that weve chosen for this, he said.
The guidelines are written at the 12th grade level, Dr. McGinnis said, adding that the ACS has other prostate cancer information written at lower reading levels. Although the guidelines are available on the Internet (see box), we feel they are best used if the patient has the printed version in hand, he said.
To Obtain the Prostate Cancer Patient Guidelines
The Prostate Cancer Treatment Guidelines for Patients are available on the websites of both the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) and the NCCN (www.nccn.org). Printed copies can also be obtained from both organizations. The ACSs call center provides free copies with a limit of 100 per request (1-800-227-2345). The NCCN can be reached at 1-888-909-6226.