KENYA— Oncologists and specialists from around the world have gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, to revise the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) Harmonized Guidelines for Sub-Saharan Africa.

This collaboration is part of an ongoing effort by Allied Against Cancer, a group comprised of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the African Cancer Coalition (ACC), the American Cancer Society (ACS), and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI).

The three-day meeting (May 1-3, 2024) focuses on revising treatment recommendations for various cancers, including a particular emphasis on tailoring guidelines for patients living with HIV.

This meeting has been attended by William J. Gradishar, MD, from Northwestern University’s Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chair of the NCCN Guidelines Panel for Breast Cancer, Gregory J. Riely, MD, PhD, from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Chair of the NCCN Guidelines Panel for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, and Manoj P. Menon, MD, MPH, from Fred Hutch Cancer Center, who is a Member of the NCCN Guidelines Panels for Cancer in People with HIV and Kaposi Sarcoma.

The NCCN Harmonized Guidelines use a color-coded system to represent the best course of treatment across different settings and resource limitations.

These guidelines are derived from the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, which are widely recognized for their evidence-based approach.

With the meeting ongoing, the Allied Against Cancer has committed to revising these patient-centred guidelines regularly, working closely with oncologists in Sub-Saharan Africa to ensure knowledge exchange.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr. Warren Phipps, Medical Director of the Uganda Cancer Institute, highlighted the positive impact these guidelines have had on HIV-positive patients by addressing concerns about drug interactions and promoting safe, essential therapies.

He went on to say that the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa makes these region-specific guidelines even more crucial

Dr. Phipps emphasized on the increased occurrence of various cancers in individuals living with HIV, including AIDS-defining cancers and non-AIDS-defining tumours due to improved lifespans with advancements in HIV treatment.

In her speech, Shanthi Sivendran, MD, MSCR, MBA, Senior Vice President for Cancer Care Support at the American Cancer Society, stated that these sessions will give unique and valuable chances for information sharing across countries and specializations.

Shanthi noted that the standardized treatment protocols based on current evidence will ensure patients receive the best possible care, while also providing a framework for building capacity in resource-limited settings.

For her part, Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, NCCN’s Chief Executive Officer, stated that the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines demonstrates their commitment to enhancing cancer treatment and reducing worldwide gaps in cancer-related access and outcomes.

Crystal anticipates that their continued usage and implementation will result in tangible, continual advances in cancer prevention and treatment throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, contributing to better health outcomes for individuals across the area.

The Nairobi meeting will cover changes to the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines for People Living with HIV, as well as breast cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, malignant pleural mesothelioma, and non-small cell lung cancer.

Other cancers to be addressed include occult primary (cancer with an unknown cause), prostate cancer, small cell lung cancer, thymomas, and thymic carcinomas.

The panel will also update NCCN Harmonized Guidelines for prevention and supportive care, such as breast cancer screening and diagnosis, cancer-related infection prevention and treatment, and prostate cancer early detection.

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