The use of patient navigators to improve cancer care for Hispanic patients

Clin Med Insights Oncol. 2011 Feb 2;5:1-7. doi: 10.4137/CMO.S6074.


Background: Although the United States is one of the countries at the leading edge of medical breakthroughs and treatments, there are great disparities in the access to care among different socioeconomic strata. One of the most striking discrepancies regarding access to care is found among the ranks of the Hispanic population, which is the fastest growing minority in the United States, but for which cancer is the third leading cause of death. It is clear that better and timely treatment for cancer patients belonging to this minority is needed. Patient navigators can be an important tool to improve access to care of patients belonging to this minority group.

Methods: Through a systemic search, we identified seven articles that employed patient navigators for Hispanic cancer patients. The identified studies addressed very limited pathology, three studying breast and four colon cancer patients.

Conclusions: The presence of patient navigation can be an effective to remove impediments that limit the access to care in minority populations and can improve outcomes in Hispanic patients suffering from cancer. Further research to evaluate the cost of patient navigation in relationship to the added benefit early diagnosis, continued follow up and treatment is needed.

Keywords: Hispanic; cancer; disparities in healthcare; minority health; patient navigators.