Patient navigation is a widely used approach to minimize health disparities among socioeconomically marginalized cancer patients. Although patient navigation is widely used, there is a dearth of studies exploring patient experience with navigators among rural cancer patients. This qualitative study explores the challenges and barriers to cancer care faced by cancer patients living in a US/Mexico border region in Southern California. We individually interviewed 22 cancer patients, most of whom were Latino. Data were analyzed using constant comparison with a reiterative analysis method. The main themes relating to barriers to care and experiences with patient navigators include the following: (1) removing financial barriers, (2) coordinating services, and (3) providing therapeutic interventions. The cancer patients highly valued the navigators for their knowledge about community resources, support, and advocacy. This study suggests that it is imperative that navigators know the regional and binational health care utilization issues that impact patients' access to cancer care.
Keywords: Cancer care; Challenges/barriers; Health care disparities; Rural; US/Mexico border.