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Sanja Percac-Lima, MD, is an Assistant Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a primary care physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital Chelsea Community HealthCare Center, serving predominantly low income, Latino and immigrant population. In 2006 she received the Clinical Innovation Award to design patient navigation program for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening at MGH Chelsea. The program eliminated disparities in CRC screening at the health center and the National Cancer Institute selected it as one of only ten evidence based program to improve CRC screening in United States. For this program in 2011, Dr. Percac-Lima received the Prevent Cancer Prevention Foundation Laurel for Innovative Programs.
Dr. Percac-Lima is actively involved in efforts to expand navigator programs across cancer centers affiliated with Harvard Medical School and the Partners Healthcare System. In 2009, she designed a breast cancer screening patient navigation program for women refugees from Somalia, the Middle East and Bosnia. In 2012 she developed the TopCare patient navigator program as a part of population management system. In collaboration with the Mass General Cancer Center in 2014 she received a grant to expand patient navigation and further improve equity in cancer care. She also received the Cancer Control Career Development Award for Primary Care Physicians from American Cancer Society to develop patient navigation to improve prevention and early detection of lung cancer.
Dr. Percac-Lima received her medical degree and PhD from University of Zagreb School of Medicine in Croatia. Her education in the United States includes: fellowship in medical education at Harvard Medical School, residency in internal medicine at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Newton MA, and fellowship in geriatric medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
The primary focus of Dr. Percac-Lima's research and clinical innovations is cancer prevention in ethnic and racial minorities.
A clinical trial conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has found that the use of patient navigators may improve comprehensive cancer screening rates among patient populations not likely to receive recommended screenings.
Refugee women who come to the United States have low breast cancer screening rates. For many women, preventive care is not a cultural norm in their countries as it is in the US.
The Colorectal Cancer Screening Navigator Program at Mass General Chelsea Healthcare Center is reducing disparities in screening rates among minority patients.
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