ANAHEIM, CA — Introducing a genetic patient navigator (GPN) has been shown to improve education on cancer risks and health behaviors among the uninsured/underserved population, adherence to risk reduction behaviors among at-risk patients, and genetic health literacy among health care professionals according to findings presented at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) 44th Annual Congress.

The 2 most common inherited cancer predisposition syndromes are hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC) and Lynch syndrome (LS). Some of the highest cancer incidence rates occur in carriers of mutations in genes associated with these syndromes.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has established cancer risk management guidelines for mutation-positive persons and for cancer survivorship. Patient navigation has been shown to reduce the barriers to care that often prevent adherence to recommended guidelines. Furthermore, low genetic health literacy among nongenetic health care providers (HCPs) may also act as a barrier to care.

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Thirty-two percent of our population is uninsured/underserved, explained Kathryn Pratt, BSN, RN, OCN®, CBCN®, of the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center, Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center in Dallas, Texas. The program implemented at UTSW created the role of a GPN to focus on serving the underserved population and to promote and increase patient adherence to healthy lifestyles.

The GPN met HBOC/LS probands to evaluate their lifestyle factors, follow-up regarding cancer risk reduction, and identify any potential social support barriers. Patients were given referrals to specialists and/or a previvorship program, as needed. The GPN also participated in provider outreach on hereditary patient management. Data was tracked using the CancerGene Connect™ navigation tool and Excel database.

In 24 months of the program, 62 public education services were held, involving 578 people, and 436 people were navigated to 431 services across 24 counties. In addition, 51 people were scheduled for or received survivorship services. Patient education resulted in improved health behaviors in 92 people, with 64 accepting a physician referral.

The program also offered professional education services to improve genetic literacy among nongenetic HCPs. Sixteen outreach events in 25 counties heightened the health literacy of 2357 HCPs.


Pratt K, Pirzedeh-Miller S, Lahiri S. Impact of genetic patient navigation to facilitate hereditary mutation carriers comply with NCCN management guidelines and to enable healthy behaviors (Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas PP160110). Oral presentation at: ONS 44th Annual Congress; April 11-14, 2019; Anaheim, CA.

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor