Navigators can help guide patients with breast cancer through care

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A new study finds that patient navigators may be able to help women with breast cancer cope with and manage their treatment process. Typically grants or hospitals cover the costs of navigators. A team of researchers from Boston University School of Medicine sought to determine whether patient navigators had an impact on whether women followed guideline-recommended treatment. The researchers reviewed the records of 1,288 racially diverse women with a breast cancer diagnosis at eight centers across the United States. Approximately half of the women were assigned a navigator. They found women eligible for antiestrogen therapy had a 73% greater chance of receiving this treatment if they had a navigator; however, the navigator did not influence whether the women underwent radiation treatment or breast-conserving surgery. “We think patient navigation helps, but we don’t know where it helps and how it helps,” reported the study’s lead author. Navigators can comfort patients, go to medical meetings with patients, translate, and repeat and explain complex medical recommendations.

Navigators can help guide patients with breast cancer through care
Navigators can help guide patients with breast cancer through care
Breast cancer kills a disproportionate share of low-income and African-American women, researchers note, and employing patient navigators is thought to be a potential way to assist underserved patients. We're really hoping that patient navigation is the solution,” said Dr. Based on women's age and the type and size of their breast tumors, that treatment included anti-estrogen therapy, radiation or chemotherapy.
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