Patient navigation may aid in breast cancer treatment in high-risk populations

August 4, 2014

Patient navigation, or 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 . 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.

Naomi Ko, MD, MPH, instructor of medicine in the Section of Hematology Oncology at Boston University School of Medicine and a practicing breast oncologist at Boston Medical Center, stresses the need for further investigation. "This study gave us a glimpse of the potential benefit of patient navigation but there's a lot more research to be done. At this point we still need to understand how or why patient navigation works. Understanding where patient navigation is most beneficial in cancer care, in order to help the neediest patients, is a rich topic for future research," said Ko.

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 model. It has been known that minority and patients, or those who may benefit most from these navigators, often have worse outcomes after diagnosed with cancer.

Explore further: Guides help cancer patients navigate health system, complete therapy

Related Stories

Nurse navigators help cancer patients cope early in care

November 25, 2013

When Group Health patients received support from a nurse navigator, or advocate, soon after a cancer diagnosis, they had better experiences and fewer problems with their care—particularly in health information, care coordination, ...

Men develop breast cancer, too

July 8, 2014

(HealthDay)—While rare, breast cancer does occur in men and is often diagnosed at a later age and stage than in women, experts say.

Recommended for you

Study examines evolution of cancer

February 8, 2016

A novel Yale study answers age-old questions about how cancers spread by applying tools from evolutionary biology. The new insights will help scientists better understand the genetic origins of tumor metastases, and lead ...

The growing menace of HPV‑related throat and mouth cancers

February 2, 2016

There's a new cancer epidemic on the rise. It's an aggressive throat and mouth cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV)—the same sexually transmitted virus that leads to cervical cancer—but it's affecting mostly ...

How gut inflammation sparks colon cancer

February 4, 2016

Chronic inflammation in the gut increases the risk of colon cancer by as much as 500 percent, and now Duke University researchers think they know why.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.