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Patient Navigators Helping Speed Breast Cancer Diagnosis In Latinas

UT Health Science Center

It’s not uncommon for Latinas who have an abnormal mammogram test to not follow up and get the medical treatment they need, but a little extra support from helpers called “patient navigators” can make the difference.

Facing a possible diagnosis of breast cancer can be tough for anyone to process, but for whatever reason, Hispanic women need a little extra help to get them back to the doctor.

"It can be fear, it can be economics, it can be language issues, it can be not knowing the medical system and what are the next steps required to get complete follow-through," said Amelie Ramirez of the University of Texas Health Science Center.

Ramirez is the author of a new study published in the journal Cancer that found assigning a "patient navigator" to Latinas who have abnormal breast cancer scans improves their health care.

"They help them set up their appointments. If the woman says, 'I can’t come in because I don’t have anyone to help me with child care, I don’t have transportation,' our patient navigator assists them with these barriers," explained Ramirez.

According to the Institute for Health Promotion Research study, patients assigned a navigator received their diagnosis faster.

This can save lives and health care dollars. Ramirez said they are looking for ways to keep a patient navigators on staff as a standard part of a successful health care model.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi