Patient navigation services must increase breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening for disadvantaged racial and ethnic populations and people with lower incomes, the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommended. Patient navigation services, coupled with timely and appropriate follow-up care and treatment, could improve health equity for these groups, in some cases reducing cancer mortality and incidence, the task force added. 

The task force’s recommendation came following a systematic review of 34 studies that examined intervention effectiveness in increasing breast, cervical, or colorectal cancer screenings. Of the 34 studies, 27 evaluated intervention effects on colorectal cancer screening, 3 focused on cervical cancer screening, and 11 evaluated breast cancer screening.

Based on their findings, CPSTF recommended the following increased screenings for historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic populations and people with lower incomes:

  • Breast cancer screening by mammography
  • Cervical cancer screening by Pap test
  • Colorectal cancer screening by colonoscopy, fecal occult blood test, or fecal immunochemical test

The recommendations for patient navigation services complement CPSTF’s recommendations for interventions engaging community health workers and multicomponent interventions to increase breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings, the task force said.

As symptom management educators, nurses help translate the complicated journey through the healthcare system. The paths to survivorship often have more barriers than open doors, and having experts like oncology nurses serve as navigators can promote stronger patient-centered care.