Volunteers speed up cancer care treatment

Oct. 29, 2007 at 12:49 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers found volunteers can significantly help guide minority and low-income cancer patients cut through barriers to care.

Lead study author Dr. David Khan of Centinela Freeman Medical Center in Inglewood, Calif., found volunteers helping low-income and minority cancer patients -- lay patient navigators known as LPNs -- helped cancer patients reduce the time it took to overcome barriers to cancer treatment from an average of 42 days to only one day.

"Our study shows that LPNs can play an important role in reducing the healthcare disparities among minority and low-income patients by being their patient advocates," Khan said in a statement. "These patient navigator programs should become an essential part of our healthcare delivery system to provide these patients with better access to quality care."

The researchers studied nearly 500 African-American and Latino cancer patients with mean family incomes below the poverty level and found 60 percent of them accepted help from LPNs. Some of the largest barriers to getting cancer treatment included a lack of transportation to healthcare providers and inadequate finances to pay for medical care.

The findings were presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology’s 49th annual meeting in Los Angeles.

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