Cancer patients in two more areas of the province now have accessto Cancer Patient Navigation, a support program for cancerpatients and their families. Official program launches will take place Tuesday, Sept. 23, inthe region served by Annapolis Valley Health and on Wednesday,Sept. 24 in the area served by South Shore Health. That means cancer patients in five of the province’s nine healthdistricts will now have access to the program, which providesimproved access and enhanced co-ordination of treatment, follow-up and support services to cancer patients. Special staffmembers, known as “navigators,” ensure patients have theinformation, knowledge and support they need as they journeythrough the cancer care system. The navigators work closely withfamily doctors, cancer specialists, patients and their familiesto strengthen community cancer services. “Patients have told us that cancer treatment is like goingthrough a maze,” said Dr. Andrew Padmos, commissioner, CancerCare Nova Scotia “We listened and responded by developing CancerPatient Navigation for Nova Scotians. Now, the rest of Canada islooking to us on how they too, can enhance access for theirpatients.” Since the program was launched in February 2002 in three earlyadopter districts (Pictou County, Guysborough Antigonish Straitand South West Health), navigators have worked with more than 900patients and 300 family members, physicians and other healthprofessionals. “This program provides tremendous support to cancer patients andtheir families in Nova Scotia,” said Premier John Hamm. “I’mextremely pleased to see that it is being expanded to two moreregions in our province.” “I’d also like to commend Cancer Care Nova Scotia for the hardwork they have done on the development and implementation of thisimportant program.” “A cancer diagnosis can have an overwhelming impact on the livesof patients and their families,” said Health Minister AngusMacIsaac. “Having a helping hand to navigate them through thisprocess is not only comforting, it also makes sure that they havethe information, knowledge, and support they need to cope andheal to meet the future.” About 24,000 Nova Scotians are living with cancer. Almost 4,000of them are living with cancer in regions served by South ShoreHealth and Annapolis Valley Health. During the next year about5,000 new cases will be diagnosed, 800 in these two districts. “With the launch of the Patient Navigation Program, cancerpatients in Annapolis Valley Health (AVH), will now have moresupport and assistance in our district,” said Anne McGuire, CEO,Annapolis Valley Health. “The AVH Cancer Care Committee found thenavigation role is a top priority for patients and familiescoping with a cancer diagnosis. Working in partnership withCancer Care Nova Scotia, AVH will be able to help cancerpatients, their families and loved ones find the best care andservices possible during their treatment and beyond.” “We are pleased to be working in partnership with Cancer CareNova Scotia to provide a service that will positively impact thelives of hundreds of cancer patients and their families in ourDistrict,” said South Shore Health’s CEO Kevin McNamara. “PatientNavigation will improve access to, and co-ordination of, cancerservices and greatly enhance the quality of cancer care providedin our hospitals and in the community.” During extensive consultation, cancer patients, family members,health professionals, community organizations and volunteersindicated that patients need more care from the time ofdiagnosis, more timely information and more involvement by thefamily doctor. These recommendations formed the foundation forPatient Navigation. A formal evaluation of Patient Navigation is currently underwayin the early adopter districts. The evaluation will clarify therole of the patient navigator and ways of improving co-ordinationand continuity of care. Evaluation results will be available inNovember 2003. Cancer Care Nova Scotia is a program of the Department of Health,created to reduce the burden of cancer on individuals, familiesand the health-care system through prevention, screening,education and research.