Introduction

The overall goal of this program is: To save the lives of women diagnosed with breast cancer and ensure timely and efficient delivery of breast care/cancer services through quality and excellence in the navigation of a breast patient through their imaging and/or cancer care and treatment.

This program is a vision of the National Consortium of Breast Centers. It has been brought to reality through approval of the board of trustees and developed by a committee of dedicated breast professionals. There are two target audiences: the breast care/cancer patients and the Breast Patient Navigators who guide this group of patients through the complex process of their breast care or treatment continuum.

Most patients realize they should follow early detection guidelines and follow-up with their care providers; however, sometimes there are barriers that prevent individuals from seeking or even following these care guidelines. Barriers may include, but are not limited to: access to care, a lack of understanding or fear of the care process, fear of a positive diagnosis, financial barriers to treatment, and a myriad of additional psychosocial, emotional, and family concerns in the event of a positive diagnosis.

Accepted cancer care and treatment guidelines have been set forth by many organizations including NCCN, ACR, ACOS, and CAP. Based upon these and other acknowledged sources, the facility establishes its own guidelines to move a breast patient through the continuum of care. The continuum of care for breast patients may differ facility by facility due to many factors, such as, but not limited to, resources, facility protocol, governance, and patient populations served.

Moving a patient through a breast care/cancer continuum is a complex and highly individualized process. The complexity is significantly reduced with the assistance of an individual who is trained to navigate a patient through the processes of care, often referred to as a breast patient navigator. However, just as the breast care/cancer diagnosis and treatment process may differ from facility to facility, so do the definitions, activities, knowledge and job descriptions of a breast patient navigator. These disparities can adversely affect the breast care/cancer treatment provided to women across the nation and around the world. In an effort to minimize and eventually eliminate the variances in a breast patient's continuum of care and the definition/function of a breast patient navigator providing care within that continuum, the NCBC created this program.


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