Everett-Area Cancer Patients Can More Easily Navigate Health Care System

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American Cancer Society and AstraZeneca launched a new Patient Navigator Program at the Providence Regional Cancer Partnership in Everett, Washington.

Everett's local site is just one part of a strategic nationwide effort to significantly extend the reach of the Society's innovative Patient Navigator Program, a comprehensive initiative to assist individual cancer patients in negotiating the health care system. AstraZeneca has pledged USD$10 million to the American Cancer Society to accelerate development of at least 50 new Patient Navigator Program sites over the next five years in communities throughout the United States, including Everett.

AstraZeneca's support will allow the launch of a full-time Patient Navigator Program site at the Providence Regional Cancer Partnership. According to American Cancer Society estimates, 31,080 Washingtonians will be diagnosed with cancer in 2007.

"A cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing experience for patients, their families and their caregivers," said Kathy Reiff, American Cancer Society Patient Navigator. "I'm here to provide support every step of the way, from explaining what to expect with chemotherapy, to making sure patients have transportation to and from appointments. Fighting cancer is a difficult, challenging journey; with the help of trained navigators, patients don't have to go through it alone."

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The American Cancer Society's Patient Navigator Program directly connects cancer patients to local education and support specialists -- known as "navigators" -- who, through one-on-one relationships, serve as personal guides to patients as they face the psychological, emotional and financial challenges of their cancer experience. The initiative is free and confidential, and places an emphasis on assisting the medically underserved.

"A cancer diagnosis can be the most overwhelming experience a person may ever face, and we know that diagnosis is just the beginning of a challenging journey to successfully fight this disease," said Ann Marie Pomerinke, CEO of the American Cancer Society Great West Division. "While there are many uncertainties associated with cancer, the Patient Navigator Program can relieve some of these anxieties by providing personalized support and education for the needs of each patient and their families."

Navigators for the American Cancer Society's Patient Navigator Program provide patients, survivors, and caregivers with social services and programs, as well as resources tailored to the local community. As no cancer experience is the same, navigators also are equipped to provide patients with customized, high-quality, current, easy-to-understand cancer-related information. Navigators seek to improve quality of life for cancer patients, families and caregivers throughout the continuum -- from time of diagnosis, through treatment, into survivorship. Furthermore, navigators are able to increase treatment compliance and follow-up care through a greater understanding of issues.

"AstraZeneca is thrilled to be the first corporation to give nationwide, large-scale support to the American Cancer Society's Patient Navigator Program," said Lisa Schoenberg, Vice President of Specialty Care, AstraZeneca LP. "This is the beginning of a new chapter in AstraZeneca's commitment to personalized cancer care. We are proud to support the American Cancer Society's Patient Navigator Program in its mission of improving patient outcomes, not only in Washington, but in communities throughout the country."

"Successfully treating cancer involves more than accurate diagnosis and effective therapies," said Jean McMahon, executive director Providence Regional Cancer Partnership. "We must tend to the whole patient experience including the psychological support which patients often need. Patient navigators directly assist patients by eliminating financial, communication and emotional barriers to timely diagnosis and treatment. This kind of support may be life saving."

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