The linking of a newly diagnosed cancer patient with a professional trained in assisting patients though the complex journey of cancer diagnosis and treatment, may lead to better breast cancer care in high risk and minority women.
The findings, recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the first national study to show a relationship between navigators and the initiation of certain recommended treatments in breast cancer.
Using data from a previously published, multi-center study funded by the National Cancer Institute, researchers aimed to identify the possible benefits of assigning patient navigators to women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. According to the results, women were more likely to start recommended treatment when assisted by one of these trained specialists. For example, they were more likely to start hormonal therapy, which is considered the gold standard in treatment for certain types of breast cancer.
Navigators are experts in helping patients overcome the numerous obstacles they face, including monetary difficulties, transportation issues, educational and even language barriers, and have become an integral part of the cancer care model. It has been known that minority and high risk patients, or those who may benefit most from these navigators, often have worse outcomes after diagnosed with cancer.