One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Thanks to early detection, which provides more options for care, the five-year survival rate is up to 98 percent. Still, the journey from diagnosis to survivorship can be difficult.
Modern cancer care, including the treatment of breast cancer, has adopted a multidisciplinary approach that gives patients a team of providers at their service. For example with breast cancer, care teams may include a plastic surgeon if reconstruction may be needed. This approach is highly noted for enhancing patient care.
Whether you have a benign breast condition or a breast cancer diagnosis, making decisions about the best treatment options can be overwhelming. For patients, it is important to have the knowledge and support you need to make decisions regarding your care.
In particular, with the complexity of a cancer diagnosis, having an advocate and guide can help relieve some of the stress from patients and their families during a very difficult time. That's where nurse navigators come in.
Oncology nurse navigators guide patients and families through the continuum of cancer care. These nurses are resources, friends, guides and confidantes to patients. They act as educators, care coordinators, system navigators and community ambassadors to improve the experience for patients.
During the critical time after diagnosis, nurse navigators are in constant communication with the patient. They provide answers and help to the patient and the patient's loved ones, understand the diagnosis, process of treatment and more.
Often, nurse navigators are a support system for the patient and their families, and they provide a streamlined connection to physicians, community support resources and needed services throughout the patient's journey from diagnosis, treatment and into survivorship.
Nurse navigators work closely with the patient's team of physicians to help the patient understand every step of their treatment plan. Most cancer patients will need to see multiple physicians and have a series of treatments. Nurse navigators walk with the patient through each step.
Nurse navigators also work with social workers to connect patients with any needed community resources. That may be as simple as transportation to and from appointments or as complex as determining what medications and treatments are covered by insurance. If the patient has more emotional needs, they can be connected to a support group or counselor.
Nurse navigators understand how challenging the journey from diagnosis through treatment can be for patients. And they know and understand the team of care providers available to each patient.
If you or someone you love is diagnosed with breast cancer or any other cancer, seek the support of an oncology nurse navigator from your care provider.
During difficult health challenges, having a guide by your side can reduce stress, empower decisions and ultimately lead to a better care experience.