The National Comprehensive Cancer Network is perhaps one of the most influential medical organizations in the United States in regards to the medical field of oncology.

Formed by the world’s leading Cancer Centers (which happen to be all in the US), this non-for-profit organization provides the most cutting-edge recommendations for cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment for patients and oncologists throughout the world. Their Android app, NCCN Guidelines, attempts to bring the best of their services to the palm of the healthcare providers.

Just like NCCN’s online website, in order to use their services, users will need to register for a free account. When first loading up the NCCN guidelines app, users will be prompted to log onto their NCCN account.

After inputting the account information after the first load, the app stores that data and automatically logs in from then on. In other words, in order to use the app and its “files (we’ll discuss this a bit later),” an internet connection is required.

Once that is over with, users will be presented with the “Library” list of 52 NCCN guidelines that are divided by “cancer treatment by site,” “deduction, prevention, and risk reduction,” “supportive care,” and “age-related recommendations,” which mirrors the website’s divisions.

However, there is no categorization on the app unlike NCCN’s website, and all the guidelines are listed on the same page. Also, although most articles provided by NCCN are available on the app, some topics, such as  “Waldenstroms Macroglobulinemia,” are missing. The guidelines written for patients are absent as well and all articles are intended for physicians.


Selecting an article will begin a download process that grabs the PDF file over the internet. Once the PDF is downloaded, it is saved in an unknown directory on the phone (I have tried searching, but could not locate these PDF files). The app will then automatically execute the file with the user’s preferred choice of PDF reader app.

There is a built-in search bar that works adequately, but don’t expect real-time searches as you type. The exact word has to be typed in the search box in order for the article to be found.

These downloaded guidelines are then automatically “starred” and listed under the “Saved” tabs. Here, users will be able to open or delete the saved guidelines via a drop down menu, a method that perhaps adds a little complexity to the process when it isn’t needed. An odd design decision in my opinion.

Not much one can do with the “Settings” tab other than reset one’s account information or apply for another account.

As expected, under “License Agreement,” users will be presented with NCCN’s End User License Agreement for reference and legal purposes.

There is a small nuisance that kept bothering me during my use of NCCN’s app. The app icon by default is named “Guidelines,” which is sorted alphabetically by the letter “G” with my other apps in my app drawer. One would think the app would be given a name that starts with “NCCN” or “National,” which makes me instinctively search among the “N” starting apps when I’m looking for NCCN Guidelines.

A minor detail, I know, but for some reason it bugged me quite a lot–and yes, I see that with the icon’s “NCCN” imprinted on it and the words “Guidelines” underneath it does spell, NCCN guidelines. Clever.

That pretty much sums of the app NCCN Guidelines itself. Given how large and important the National Comprehensive Cancer Network is, I was definitely expecting much more. Not to worry, though, I’ve seen better alternatives on the iOS, and hopefully these 3rd party apps will soon come to the Android system.

As for their PDFs, they are the same ones users will find on NCCN’s main website. These PDF files are presented in a longitudinal “Power Point” style, loaded with world-class information and cutting-edge medicine. The layout of the contents are nicely designed but still contain an overwhelming amount of information, which is expected given the complexity of cancer care.

However, because of the amount of information presented on the pages of these PDFs, even on my 4.8-inch screen, the text can get pretty cramped. These guidelines are definitely more suited to be printed out or read on larger screens, such as tablets or computer monitors.

Price

  •  Free

Likes

  • World-class content from the source institution directly.

Dislikes

  • Lackluster, poorly designed app
  • Basically functions as direct download links to NCCN guideline PDFs
  • Requires a third party PDF reader to function
  • Absent content, such as guidelines for patients.

Conclusion

  • The National Comprehensive Cancer Network has brought their cancer treatment guidelines to the Android platform with their app, NCCN Guidelines. Despite the quality research and tremendous contribution that NCCN has provided for the medical community so far, their Android app demonstrates extremely disappointing results.
  • The lack in functionality in the app and optimization of the guideline PDFs for smaller screens really limits the practicality of having this app on the cell phone. Users would be better off downloading the PDF files directly off the main website and uploading them to their smartphones directly.

 iMedicalApps recommended?

  • No

Google Play

Rating (1 to 5 stars) Overall: 2.3

  1. User Interface: 2
  2. Multimedia Usage: 3
  3. Price: 5
  4. Real World Applicability: 2