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5 Things to Look for at NCCN's Annual Conference

Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, PhD
A preview of some of the discussions at the 22nd Annual Conference of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).
The American Journal of Managed Care® will be in attendance at the 22nd Annual Conference of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Here’s a preview of some of the discussions at this year’s meeting:

1. Disparities encountered in cancer care.

The meeting will kick off with a roundtable discussion on addressing the disparities in cancer care, beginning at screening and diagnosis, all the way to survivor care. Over the years, research studies have identified subsets within the population that are especially vulnerable to healthcare disparities: racial and ethnic minorities, rural residents, and adults with low incomes. According to a study published in Health Affairs, interventions designed to address these disparities must address multiple factors—such as family and social support, provider and organization factors, and health policy—to be effective.

Participants on the NCCN panel include Shauntice Allen, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center, who is a health services researcher; Moon S. Chen Jr, PhD, MPH, of the University of California Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, an expert in cancer health disparities; Anne Filipic, of Enroll America, a not-for-profit healthcare enrollment coalition that informs consumers on coverage options and enrollment procedurs; Edith Mitchell, MD, of Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University, who was a member of Vice President Joe Biden’s Blue Ribbon Panel for the Cancer Moonshot initiative; and Phyllis Pettit Nassi, MSW, who manages special populations at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah and educates them on cancer prevention and treatment.

2. Guideline update for non-small cell lung cancer.

Lung cancer has seen a spike in treatment options, but treatment decisions can be complicated. A series of presentations at the meeting will provide an update on changes to the NCCN Guidelines for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This includes a seminar by Gregory J. Riely, MD, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, on the appropriate time for using molecular diagnostics for NSCLC. Wallace Akerley, MD, of Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, will propel the discussion further by talking about biomarker-based treatment selection, and Matthew A. Gubens, MD, MS, of the University of California San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, will provide an update on various immunotherapy options available for lung cancer.

3. Toxicity with immuno-oncology treatments.

Immuno-oncology (IO) treatments are promising, but they bring their share of toxicities. It’s important for patients and family caregivers to understand the nature of this treatment upfront. At the 5th annual Patient-Centered Oncology Care® meeting in Baltimore, patient advocate Debra Madden emphasized the need for patients to understand the limitations of IO treatment.

At NCCN, Stephanie Andrews, MS, ANP-BC, an oncology nurse practitioner at Moffitt Cancer Center, will speak to the audience on what to anticipate with IO treatments and how to best manage toxicities.

4. The oncologist’s role in smoking cessation.

Paul M. Cinciripini, PhD, chairs the Department of Behavioral Science at MD Anderson Cancer Center and directs the Tobacco Treatment Program. With specific interests in smoking cessation and nicotine psychopharmacology, Cinciripini has worked with patients who smoke and have been diagnosed with conditions such as depression and cancer.

Oncologists are in the best situation to counsel patients with cancer on the hazards of smoking, and during his presentation, Cinciripini will be discussing the treatment options for smoking cessation and the supporting role for oncologists in helping patients quit.

5. When a doctor becomes the patient.  

Paul Kalanithi, MD, was a neurosurgeon, working as an instructor at the Stanford University, when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died in 2015 at the early age of 37, leaving behind a grieving wife and an infant daughter. He documented his feelings and experiences as a patient through a series of articles written for The New York Times and Stanford Medicine. His memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, became a New York Times bestseller.

Kalanithi’s widow, Lucy Kalanithi, MD, and his treating oncologist at Stanford University, Heather Wakelee, MD, associate professor of Medicine at the Stanford Cancer Institute, will deliver the keynote at the meeting: The Complex Patient–Caregiver–Physician Relation in Cancer.

 
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