Cancer patient navigation (PN) programs have been shown to increase access to and utilization of cancer care for poor and underserved individuals. Despite mounting evidence of its value, cancer patient navigation is not universally understood or provided. We describe five PN programs and the range of tasks their navigators provide across the cancer care continuum (education and outreach, screening, diagnosis and staging, treatment, survivorship, and end-of-life). Tasks are organized by their potential to make cancer services understandable, available, accessible, affordable, appropriate, and accountable. Although navigators perform similar tasks across the five programs, their specific approaches reflect differences in community culture, context, program setting, and funding. Task lists can inform the development of programs, job descriptions, training, and evaluation. They also may be useful in the move to certify navigators and establish mechanisms for reimbursement for navigation services.
Keywords: Access to health care; case management; certification; health care disparities; indigenous populations; minority health.