Whether deviations from treatment guidelines are warranted to provide optimal personalized care, or should be financially penalized for straying from evidence-based care, has raised questions among insurers and physicians and caused a stir in the press. In general, however, patients with cancer are not that aware of the guidelines, Margaret A. Tempero, MD, FASCO, told The ASCO Post.
“Or if patients are aware of the guidelines, I don’t think they are checking to see that they are being treated accordingly,” she added. Dr. Tempero is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a past ASCO President and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Director of the UCSF Pancreas Center.
“Part of the reason patients are not knowledgeable about treatment guidelines is because many of the guidelines are not available in a patient-friendly format,” Dr. Tempero said, and therefore difficult for patients to interpret. In addition, patients may not be looking for other treatment recommendations.
“I still think that patients, especially when they are very sick with cancer, tend to trust their physicians,” Dr. Tempero maintained.
Treatment guidelines can be useful and reassuring in describing recommendations and options. “When I am explaining a therapy, I might say, ‘This would be the standard therapy given in any guidelines for care,’” Dr. Tempero noted. ■
Disclosure: Dr. Tempero reported no potential conflicts of interest.