International collaboration to improve cancer care in Sub-Saharan Africa updates resources for sixth year

16 Jan 2024
International collaboration to improve cancer care in Sub-Saharan Africa updates resources for sixth year

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) —an alliance of leading academic cancer centers in the United States—is celebrating six years of working alongside the African Cancer Coalition (ACC), the American Cancer Society (ACS), and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), as part of Allied Against Cancer.

The collaboration was formed to support and empower the Sub-Saharan African oncology community to advance health system capacity, deliver high-quality cancer care, and improve access for all patients.

Allied Against Cancer’s work involves several initiatives, including the development of NCCN Harmonized Guidelines for Sub-Saharan Africa.

These evidence-based recommendations are based on in-region expert consensus on context-appropriate approaches for treating nearly all adult cancers across more than a dozen countries throughout the region.

NCCN Harmonized Guidelines for Sub-Saharan Africa are available free-of-charge at

“The oncology community in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is working with NCCN to enhance the capacity of our professionals to meet the challenge of cancer care in SSA and cases that are increasing at a significant rate,” said Professor Isaac Adewole, Former Nigerian Minister of Health, Co-Chair of ACC.

“Allied Against Cancer activities and tools like the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines help us to ensure cancer care can be provided according to the latest research, based on all available resources.

Standardising care according to established best practices allows us to better anticipate what our needs will be, including medication, making it easier to negotiate prices and increase necessary infrastructure as well as participate in clinical trials and international conferences or meetings.”

The first NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for Sub-Saharan Africa debuted in November of 2017, during the biennial African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) International Conference on Cancer in Africa in Kigali, Rwanda.

Since then, the library has grown to 54 NCCN Harmonized Guidelines for Sub-Saharan Africa, providing best practice cancer treatment recommendations for more than 92% of all adult cancer incidence in the region, including breast, prostate, and cervical cancers, as well as supportive care resources and screening recommendations.

Recently, the groups have focused on the development of paediatric guidelines.

“We are honoured to be able to work alongside these dedicated local experts across the African oncology community and our Allied Against Cancer collaborators,” said Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, CEO, NCCN.

“We hope efforts such as this will continue to promote improvements in care that are both pragmatic and aspirational around the world while supporting our oncology colleagues in their provision of optimal cancer care.”

In 2023 alone, the group published 35 updated guidelines.

During the 14th AORTIC International Conference on Cancer in Africa held in Dakar, Senegal in late 2023, oncologists from the region presented on implementation of the harmonised guidelines within their countries, with support from ACS.

“We were fortunate to be able to expand and update the harmonised guidelines this year during meetings in Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and Senegal, in order to continue making progress against the accelerating burden of cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Shanthi Sivendran, MD, MSCR, MBA, Senior Vice President, Cancer Care Support, ACS.

“Our aim is to make sure oncologists and patients across the Sub-Saharan region have access to the tools they need to provide the best care possible while often facing staffing and equipment shortages.”

The library of NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for Sub-Saharan Africa are endorsed by the Federal Ministries of Health and leading cancer centers in Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, representing 44% of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa.

To date, the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for Sub-Saharan Africa have been downloaded over 56,000 times.

Source: NCCN