Impact of patient navigation from diagnosis to treatment in an urban safety net breast cancer population

J Cancer. 2011;2:467-73. doi: 10.7150/jca.2.467. Epub 2011 Sep 8.


Background: Disparities between U.S. population groups in cancer incidence, treatment and outcome have been well documented. Literature evidence is scarce regarding the impact of patient navigator programs on elimination of these differences.

Methods: This is a retrospective case series analysis .The pre -navigation group included patients diagnosed between January 1, 1997 and December 31, 1999. The post -navigation group included patients diagnosed between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2003. Cancer stage, time from presentation to treatment and treatment outcome were compared by review of medical records.

Results: Three hundred and thirty five women were diagnosed between January 1, 1997 and December 31, 2003. Thirteen patients were ineligible, 103 women in the pre- navigation group, and 219 women in the post-navigation group. 157 (72%) received navigation services. The median time to first treatment was decreased by 9 days (42 days in pre -navigation group compared to 33 days in post -navigator group). Race, insurance and clinical presentation did not influence the time to treatment.

Conclusions: Navigation program did not influence the stage of presentation or the overall survival of women. There was a modest decrease in the time between initial presentation and definitive therapy. The utility of navigator programs is likely to vary with each institution.

Keywords: Patient Navigation; breast cancer; survival; underserved population.