The following article features coverage from the 2017 ONA Navigation Summit in Austin, Texas. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage. 


Background: Sutter Health System in Northern California diagnoses nearly 3000 new breast cancers patients per year. We received a system grant to explore the breast cancer patient experience and improve the overall program throughout the system. Patients report varying experience with how and by whom they receive their breast cancer diagnosis. Some have reported hearing their diagnosis by phone, while driving, out shopping, or at community events. Patients also have reported that they received results without comprehensive information and support. These experiences led us to examine the patient’s perspective of their initial breast cancer diagnosis process and care management. A patient survey was designed to assess patients’ current experience at 4 geographically different affiliates of Sutter Health. We sought to learn how patients wish to receive a breast cancer diagnosis and from whom, what they most desire from the experiences, and what resources they found were the most beneficial during the diagnostic process.

Methods: Five hundred and seventeen patients diagnosed with breast cancer between October 2015 and July 2016 at 4 geographically diverse Sutter Health affiliates received a paper survey, cover letter, and self-addressed stamped envelope in order to de-identify patients for anonymity. Questions asked were related to how they learned their diagnosis, what was most helpful to them, and what could improve the pathology results disclosure and next steps in treatment planning process.

Continue Reading

Results: A total of 199 surveys were returned with overall response rate of 38%.

Conclusions: Patients would like to be informed of their breast cancer diagnosis as soon as possible, in-person by an expert who can provide information about their disease and next steps. Of significance is that patients wanted a “personal touch” with compassion as well as information that allows them to understand and move forward. The nurse navigator was viewed as a critical component of the experience as they provided all of the patient preferences cited. Our next step is to assure an ideal state: that all patients have a breast nurse navigator introduction at the moment of suspicious finding requiring a biopsy. An in-person results appointment will be given for 3 days after biopsy with the nurse navigator who will provide education, written information, and referrals to oncology providers and other diagnostics if appropriate. 

Read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s coverage of the 2017 ONA Navigation Summit by visiting the conference page.