New NCCN Guidelines Released for Bladder Cancer

New "NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Bladder Cancer" explains the lengthy surveillance process that follows active treatment for the sixth most-common cancer in the United States 

The treatment landscape for bladder cancer has changed dramatically over the past few years. Despite being the sixth most common cancer in the United States, and fourth most common for men—impacting an estimated 81,000 Americans every year[1]—for decades there were minimal treatment advances. However, largely thanks to an engaged advocacy community and new clinical trials, there has been a surge of new therapeutic options approved in the last few years. As a result, the need for understandable information about of these new care choices, geared towards patients and caregivers, is greater than ever. That’s why the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) today announced the newly-published NCCN Guidelines for Patients®: Bladder Cancer, created with funding through the NCCN Foundation®. The guidelines have been endorsed by the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN), the American Bladder Cancer Society, and the Urology Care Foundation.

“Having patients who are engaged in their care is really beneficial for both providers and patients,” explained Thomas Flaig, MD, University of Colorado Cancer Center, Chair, NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) Panel for Bladder Cancer. “These new guidelines prepare patients for the reality that after surgery or intravesical treatment delivered directly to the bladder via catheter, they will remain under regular surveillance for a long time. Bladder cancer can come back years later, so we have to be vigilant.”

The NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Bladder Cancer are based on the evidence and expert-consensus from the NCCN Guidelines®. The recommendations are determined by a multidisciplinary panel of bladder cancer experts from across the 28 NCCN Member Institutions. Treatment options are presented in user-friendly terms in the patient guidelines, complete with glossary, illustrations, suggested questions for the provider, and a space to take notes.

“There have been five new drug approvals for bladder cancer in the last few years, and increasing clinical trial participation has been key to these advances. We’ve definitely turned a corner, and it’s very rewarding to see,” said Dr. Flaig. “The patient advocacy community has played an integral role in that progress, and we all need to keep up the momentum. For instance, we have more to learn about the role of checkpoint inhibitors, which are clearly active in bladder cancers. As we conduct more trials, we’re able to have a better understanding of how best to use these new tools to treat bladder cancer.”

“I have interacted with hundreds of my fellow survivors and know that we struggle to understand our diagnosis, our status, and our treatment options,” said Rick Bangs, bladder cancer patient advocate for SWOG Cancer Research Network and the NCCN Guidelines Panel for Bladder Cancer. “The NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Bladder Cancer is unique in translating the highly respected NCCN Guidelines used by doctors and insurance companies into patient-friendly language that patients, partners, caregivers, and families can use to decide what to do and when, across their bladder cancer journey. We are fortunate to live in a time when these guidelines are changing rapidly, powered by strong patient advocacy, industry innovation, compelling clinical trials, and engaged patients. Members of the National Clinical Trial Network, including SWOG, its National Cancer Institute partners, and our industry collaborators continue to work tirelessly to raise the bar with clinical trials that can lead to changes in the NCCN Guidelines.”

In addition to treatment options, the patient guidelines provide background information about the disease, including that bladder cancers are generally diagnosed in people in their 70s who are likely to have other health issues, and that it is far more common in men than women. Avoiding smoking tobacco is key for the prevention of bladder cancer, and evidence suggests generally staying hydrated can also be beneficial.

The NCCN Guidelines for Patients are available free-of-charge online at NCCN.org/patients, or via the NCCN Patient Guides for Cancer app. Print versions can be purchased at Amazon.com for a small fee.

NCCN Guidelines for Patients and NCCN Quick Guide™ sheets DO NOT replace the expertise and clinical judgment of the clinician.

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**Editor's Note: Duke Cancer Institute is part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).