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What are the NCCN Guidelines for Multiple Myeloma?
Posted: Jul 01, 2023
What are the NCCN Guidelines for Multiple Myeloma? image

Have you ever heard the phrase "according to NCCN guidelines" when reading about blood cancer research? Perhaps the cancer specialty center you attend is part of this cancer network alliance. You can learn more about this alliance below. 

What Is the NCCN? 

"NCCN" is a common acronym in the blood cancer world, especially during academic conferences, and commonly found in research. It stands for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a non-profit alliance of 33 leading cancer centers

The alliance is devoted to patient care, research, and education. They are dedicated to improving and facilitating accessible and equal cancer care so all patients can live better lives. 

The NCCN Website provides a host of interesting information for a variety of different cancers, including multiple myeloma and several other plasma cell neoplasms. The website provides well-written, clear-to-understand, and comprehensive patient guidelines that include disease explanations and guidance for treatment options. 

What Are NCCN Guidelines? How Do NCCN Guidelines Affect Myeloma Care? 

In addition to the patient guidelines mentioned above, there are NCCN guidelines for healthcare providers. These are the guidelines that people in research and academic conferences refer to when they say, "According to NCCN guidelines..."

These guidelines are crucial to proper multiple myeloma (and other cancer) care because they provide standardization of care, guide oncologists with up-to-date treatment recommendations based on the latest clinical trial results and treatment approvals, and facilitate research and innovation by highlighting areas where evidence is lacking or more research is needed. 

In the case of multiple myeloma, the NCCN guidelines were last updated in April 2024. You can access these guidelines on the NCCN website here: NCCN Guidelines for Healthcare Providers. Keep in mind that you may need to create a free log-in to access the information.

Because the material provided on their site is copyrighted, we can not provide examples of the tables and charts here.

Don’t be afraid to go through these guidelines – if you are somewhat familiar with the abbreviations or acronyms used in myeloma care you will be able to readily review them. If you are not familiar with myeloma lingo, you can learn more here before diving into the guidelines: Multiple Myeloma Abbreviations

The nice thing is that they are built up very logically and, once you find the stage of your disease (new patient, eligible/not eligible for stem cell transplant, first relapse, etc.) you will find easy-to-review charts that will provide you with the preferred course of treatment and alternatives.

Patients and/or caregivers interested in their disease will find a wealth of ‘good to know’ information that includes the latest available treatments in the United States (though the recommendations for the U.S. patient may not be available/approved in other parts of the world).

Enjoy the learning – a better-informed patient will be able to advocate for him- or herself and take a very active role in treatment decisions.

For those who want to dig in even more deeply, there is an option to register as a patient or caregiver with NCCN to receive access to the ‘NCCN Guidelines with NCCN Evidence Blocks’. This document is an expanded version of the provider NCCN guidelines and provides a nice matrix that rates each treatment option on a five-point scale for the efficacy of the treatment, safety, quality of evidence (i.e., how much public peer-reviewed literature is there to back up the claims), the consistency of evidence and the cost of treatment. 

Remain an Educated Myeloma Patient or Caregiver 

Remember, the more informed of a patient or caregiver you are, the better your multiple myeloma experience can be. In addition to reviewing the NCCN guidelines, consider one or more of the following programs to improve your myeloma education: 

The author Paul Kleutghen

about the author
Paul Kleutghen

I am a patient diagnosed in 2014 with primary plasma cell leukemia (pPCL), a rare and aggressive variant of multiple myeloma and have been very fortunate to find successful treatment at the division of Cellular Therapy at the Duke University Cancer Institute. My wife, Vicki, and I have two adult children and two grandsons who are the ‘lights of our lives’. Successful treatment has allowed Vicki and I to do what we love best : traveling the world, albeit it with some extra precautions to keep infections away. My career in the pharmaceutical industry has given me insights that I am currently putting to use as an advocate to lower drug pricing, especially prices for anti-cancer drugs. I am a firm believer that staying mentally active, physically fit, compliant to our treatment regimen and taking an active interest in our disease are keys to successful treatment outcomes.

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