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Is Cancer Community in Alignment About 'Cure' and 'Costs'? NCCN Conference Panel Asks
Date:3/7/2008

ways reimburse experimental treatment costs for cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials. "Depending upon what the evidence states, what the state of the art is, what the NCCN guidelines recommend, that is what we cover."

Cost has suddenly become more crucial to cancer patients, said Nancy Davenport-Ennis of the National Patient Advocate Foundation. Logging 6.8 million inquiries from patients in 2007, the foundation's analysis shows 70 percent of patient dilemmas involved cost. That compares with only 38 percent of callers complaining of a cost problem the previous year.

As for whether the C-word -- "cure" -- belongs in doctor-patient discussions, Saltz argued that doctors sometimes "sugarcoat the reality" in employing the phrase "progression-free survival" to describe new cancer drugs' effectiveness. Doctors understand something patients don't, he said: the phrase refers specifically to the time span between the start of treatment and the moment the tumor begins to grow again. Doctors should not impart false hope when they know "the person is not going to live longer." He urged replacing the phrase with terminology that avoids the word "survival."

Ettinger, by contrast, defended incremental improvements in treatment that may extend patients' lifespans by only weeks or months. "Are we making advances?" he asked. "Yes. Is it slow? Yes."

About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a not-for-profit alliance of 21 of the world's leading cancer centers, is dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of care provided to patients with cancer. Through the leadership and expertise of clinical professionals at NCCN Member Institutions, NCCN develops resources that present valuable information to the numerous stakeholders in the health care delivery system. As the arbiter of high-quality cancer care, NCCN promotes the importance of continuous quality improvement and rec
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SOURCE National Comprehensive Cancer Network
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