Breaking New Ground for Cancer Patients

Pfizer Grant Supports Cancer Survivorship, Navigation and Policy

The GW Cancer Institute (GWCI) is paving the road for a new national focus on patient navigation and survivorship, thanks to a $1.2 million commitment from Pfizer and the Pfizer Foundation. GWCI launched the Center for the Advancement of Cancer Survivorship, Navigation and Policy (ca-SNP), which will advance efforts in the field both locally and nationally through training, research, policy analysis, outreach and education.

“By creating this center, GWCI’s resources will reach patients in our community, as well as train other institutions to provide their own patients with the resources and care they need after receiving a cancer diagnosis,” said Steven Patierno, Ph.D., GWCI executive director.

“This center will serve as a model for other organizations interested in implementing patient programs that cover the continuum of cancer care from screening to cure or end-of-life,” he said. ”Our goal is to put the tools in place to effectively meet the needs of cancer survivors across the nation.”

Patient navigation has been shown to be effective in reducing barriers to cancer health care and improving patient access. Likewise, cancer survivorship programs have been shown to improve the quality of life for patients with a cancer diagnosis. Nevertheless, health care providers have struggled to develop and sustain successful and cost-effective patient navigation and survivorship programs. Through the creation of caSNP, the GW Cancer Institute seeks to fill both gaps.

Grant funds will support the center’s plans to launch several initiatives using a multidisciplinary approach to navigation and survivorship. Training programs will be held for institutions to learn to advance the effectiveness of navigation and survivorship programs and to share best practices. Courses will be added to the GW medicine and public health curricula to educate students about the policy context in which they practice and in which patients receive care.

Influencing health policy on these topics will be a main focus of ca-SNP. The center will conduct periodic assessments of pending reform legislation and hold expert roundtables to develop a policy-related research agenda. Policy analysis activities will be informed by a “Voices from the Patients Navigation Field” initiative that will capture feedback from patients and caregivers on barriers to care and potential solutions. A tool to evaluate national health reform proposals will be developed and distributed to policymakers and the cancer community.

Other key programs will promote patient navigation and survivorship research, coordinate clinical care at GW and build an informational tool called “The Cancer Survivor’s Roadmap” to assist survivors in the steps that follow treatment.

“The center will improve quality of life for patients throughout the entire cancer experience,” said Mandi Pratt Chapman, director of GWCI’s Office of Survivorship and co-director of the center.

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