Breast Health Navigation Program

October 16, 2008

The Shore Memorial Cancer Center recognizes that a diagnosis of cancer can be one of the most difficult things patients and their family members will ever have to face. Cancer Center staff understands that each patient is an individual with different needs, and the best approach for one person may not be the right option for another.

Through the Breast Health Navigation Program at the Shore Memorial Cancer Center, patients diagnosed with breast cancer receive individual support and one-on-one attention from a nurse navigator. Through this program, the nurse navigator helps guide women throughout all stages of treatment from diagnosis through post-treatment follow up. The nurse navigator works with the patients every step of the way to help them make decisions and resolve issues.

“We understand that even the simplest decisions can seem overwhelming when someone is facing cancer,” says Anne Marie Taggart, RN, manager of the Shore Memorial Cancer Center. “My role as nurse navigator is to help patients with whatever decisions they need to make. Whether it’s advising patients on the course of treatment they’ll take or offering them information on supportive care services, no issue is too big or too small.”

A patient will first meet with the breast health (nurse) navigator after a mammogram shows a suspicious finding in the breast tissue. If the finding turns out to be cancer, then the navigator guides the patient through treatment. The navigator works with the entire multidisciplinary cancer care team including physicians, dieticians, social workers and others to ensure that all the clinical needs of the patient are met.

In addition to assisting with patients’ clinical needs, the nurse navigator also helps with many non-clinical needs. For example, patients often are unable to drive during treatments, so the nurse navigator will arrange for transportation to and from their radiation sessions. Other non-clinical areas the nurse navigator assists with include finding a support group and providing patients with individual support as needed.

“The goal of the Breast Health Navigation Program at the Shore Memorial Cancer Center is to ensure a short transition from diagnosis to treatment for the patient. We want to make everything as seamless as possible,” says Taggart.

The Breast Health Navigation Program also serves as a resource for cancer prevention and early detection. General breast health information about topics such as mammography, breast self-exams and the risk of cancer based on family history is available to any woman. Information is not limited to patients participating in the program.

“At the Cancer Center we are advocates for women’s health. We are available to answer any questions or concerns within the full scope of breast health topics. We seek to provide prevention and early detection information to all women in order to decrease the occurrence of breast cancer, or to identify it earlier when it is easier to treat and easier to be cured,” says Taggart.

For more information about the Breast Health Navigation Program or any other cancer care services, contact the Shore Memorial Cancer Center at (609) 653-3585, or visit www.shoremedicalcenter.org/centers/cancer.