Member Spotlight: National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)

February 28, 2022

“Close the Care Gap” – Addressing Global Disparities in Cancer Care

By Katy Winckworth-Prejsnar, Manager, Global Policy and Strategic Alliances, NCCN

On February 4th, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) joined organizations worldwide to unite in the fight against cancer for World Cancer Day. Led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the theme this year was “Close the Care Gap,” with a focus on improving equity in cancer care for all populations.

As part of NCCN’s mission to improve and facilitate quality, effective, equitable, and accessible cancer care, we must acknowledge and contribute to equitable solutions that address the significant disparities in cancer care worldwide. For Sub-Saharan Africa, cancer disparities are substantial and growing; by 2040, cancer incidence in Sub-Saharan is projected to nearly double to 1.6 million new cases per year. 

The African Cancer Coalition is at the forefront of addressing access and quality disparities in cancer care and control in Sub-Saharan Africa. The coalition consists of more than 100 oncologists and other multidisciplinary cancer care physicians from over 30 hospitals, universities, and Ministries of Health in 13 Sub-Saharan African countries. 

To help support practitioners in the region, NCCN collaborates with the African Cancer Coalition, the American Cancer Society (ACS), and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), to develop the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for Sub-Saharan Africa. These resources guide evidence-based clinical decision-making while providing pragmatic approaches to improve the availability of effective treatment options in the region. 

In fewer than five years, the collaboration published 50 NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for Sub-Saharan Africa, covering 88% of all cancer incidences in the region. To date, Ministries of Health and leading cancer centers in Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, and Uganda endorse NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for Sub-Saharan Africa as national standards for treating the growing number of people with cancer. Together, these countries cover 43% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2019, the African Cancer Coalition, NCCN, ACS, and CHAI, joined together to form Allied Against Cancer. This coalition is leveraging the strengths of each organization to partner with and empower the African oncology community to deliver high-quality cancer care, while continually seeking ways to advance health system capacity and improve access for all patients.

The first year of the ‘Close the Care Gap’ campaign is about understanding and recognizing the inequities in cancer care around the globe. As we move forward, it is important to celebrate the achievements of our in-country partners to improve access to high-quality cancer care with limited resources and significant disparities. It is imperative that we continue to work collectively towards a future where who you are and where you live does not determine if you live. 

About NCCN: The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is a not-for-profit alliance of 31 leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education. NCCN is dedicated to improving and facilitating quality, effective, equitable, and accessible cancer care so all patients can live better lives. 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. By defining and advancing high-quality cancer care, NCCN promotes the importance of continuous quality improvement and recognizes the significance of creating clinical practice guidelines appropriate for use by patients, clinicians, and other health care decision-makers around the world.

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