Patient Navigation Speeds Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Diagnostic resolution significantly faster in navigated women receiving biopsies

FRIDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Patient navigation -- a service that helps patients navigate the health care system, including setting up appointments, dealing with health insurance, and coping with fears about cancer -- leads to quicker breast cancer diagnosis, especially for women requiring biopsy, according to a study published in the October issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Heather J. Hoffman, Ph.D., from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Washington D.C., and colleagues examined the ability of patient navigation to reduce breast cancer diagnostic time (number of days from abnormal screening to definitive diagnosis) in a cohort of 2,601 women (1,047 navigated; 1,554 concurrent records-based non-navigated), examined at nine hospitals/clinics.

The researchers found that the average (geometric mean) diagnostic time was significantly shorter for navigated versus non-navigated women (25.1 versus 42.1 days). For biopsied navigated women, the diagnostic time was significantly shorter compared with biopsied non-navigated women (26.6 versus 57.5 days). The diagnostic time was shorter for navigated non-biopsied women versus non-navigated non-biopsied women (27.2 versus 34.9 days), but the difference was not statistically significant.

"This study clearly shows navigation is effective in decreasing time to diagnostic resolution, particularly among women who have a biopsy and have a diagnostic resolution of cancer," the authors write. "Patient navigation should be implemented as a means to reduce diagnostic times."

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