What Is Standard Treatment?

NCCN Guidelines and the Future of Cancer Therapy

Once your cancer diagnosis is confirmed, your oncologist will likely start by recommending conventional forms of treatment for your cancer. For many cancers there is a “standard treatment” or “standard of care” that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved to treat your particular disease. The term “standard treatment” is generally used to describe the most commonly recommended treatment option for a particular type of cancer based on its location in the body, such as the breast, colon, or lung. Other characteristics about a particular cancer, such as its stage and disease history, may also affect the recommendation for standard treatment.

NCCN Guidelines: Process and History

In general, standard treatments for cancer are recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a not-for-profit alliance of the world’s leading cancer centers. The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology are considered one of the world’s most authoritative sets of recommendations for cancer treatment. Based on real-world results, the NCCN Guidelines provide evidence-based, consensus-driven treatment recommendations to ensure that all patients receive the preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic, and supportive services that are needed to increase the chance of a positive outcome. The guidelines currently apply to 97 percent of cancers affecting patients in the United States.

The NCCN Guidelines include the following components:

  • An outline of the step-by-step clinical decision-making process for managing patients with specific types of cancer, based on treatment algorithms and decision pathways developed by leading cancer specialists
  • A summary of the data that the recommendations are based upon and of key issues to consider in interpreting the information
  • A list of NCCN Guidelines panel members, including their institutional affiliations and specialties
  • A list of references that support and inform the recommendations provided in each set of guidelines

The NCCN Guidelines are developed and updated by 48 individual panels, comprising over 1,150 clinicians and oncology researchers from the 26 NCCN Member Institutions. All panel members are multi-disciplinary researchers and experts for the particular cancer type.