The University Record, February 6, 1995

U joins with 12 others in national cancer network

The Medical Center has joined with 12 other leading cancer centers to create the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Announcement of the alliance, which has a goal of ensuring the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective services to cancer patients nationwide, was made in New York Jan. 31.

NCCN will focus long-term efforts on developing programs for large employers and third-party payers for providing prevention services and cancer care to individuals. Such national agreements will ensure access to the latest in cancer treatment, as well as cancer prevention and screening programs. Pricing will remain in the control of individual member institutions.

Max Wicha, director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center says that development of standards of care for cancer treatment are important at a time when there are no set guidelines for the management of cancer patients.

"We are able to get together as groups with leaders in the treatment of each cancer--for instance, leaders in breast cancer treatment, leaders in colon cancer and lung cancer--and really look very critically at what has been established that helps--what works and what doesn't work."

Patients being treated at any one of the NCCN hospitals will have access to experimental treatments at any of the other member institutions.

"When a patient comes into our network, we will be able to look at not only the trials that are available at our own cancer center, but all of the trials that are available, to really be able to inform patients and allow them to have access to whatever we would consider to be the best treatment for them."

NCCN Medical Director Joseph V. Simone, physician-in-chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, says the network "represents an extraordinary commitment by the country's foremost institutions dedicated to the treatment of cancer. We believe that collaboration is essential if we are to guarantee availability of high-quality services in a changing health care environment.

"We're not going to wait for health care reform at the national level," he says. "Our priority is to be a voice for the patient for what the standard of care ought to be, because we believe that the right treatment at the time of diagnosis provides the best outcome and is also the most cost effective."

Standards of care currently under development include such areas as bone marrow transplantation, pediatric cancer, leukemia, and cancers of the breast and colon.

The participating centers, in addition to the U-M, are City of Hope Medical Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Fox Chase Cancer Center; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Northwestern University/Lurie Cancer Center, Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center/Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Stanford University Medical Center, and University of Nebraska Medical Center.