National Network to Develop Cancer Standards of Care

March 1, 1995

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

NEW YORK--As reported last month in ONI , 13 of the leading cancercenters in the United States have formed a national alliance--the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)--to develop andinstitute standards of care for the treatment of cancer and toperform outcomes research.

The network is also a joint business venture that is developingprograms to provide cancer prevention and care for large employersand third-party payers, Joseph Simone, MD, medical director ofthe NCCN, said at a press conference.

According to Dr. Simone, physician-in-chief, Memorial Sloan-KetteringCancer Center, such standards, while constantly changing as newknowledge accrues, may come to be viewed as the "gold standard"of cancer treatments.

Local Networks

All 13 NCCN participants are in the process of developing partnershipswith community hospitals and oncologists in their respective geographicalregions. (See story about the community network developed at theCity of Hope National Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif.)

Because of the geographical distribution of the network's cancercenters, patients will not have to travel as far to receive appropriatecare, said Dr. Charles Balch, executive vice president for healthaffairs, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

He pointed out that such flexibility is possible because the memberinstitutions have pledged to maintain common standards of care,common outcomes reporting, and standard pricing structures.

More Accurate Cost Data

Dr. Robert Young, president, Fox Chase Cancer Center, said thatthe NCCN will be able to provide "the data needed to makethe critical distinction between what is merely cheaper on a perdiem basis and what is truly cost effective care throughout thecourse of the disease."

He pointed out that the network will have the resources to measureboth the clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness of varioustreatment approaches, thus allowing payers to better judge howto spend their health-care dollars.

"We are not going to wait for health-care reform legislationat the national level," Dr. Simone said. "We believethat the right treatment at the time of diagnosis provides thebest outcome and also is the most cost effective."