Cancer and High Risk Specialty Patient Navigation

Patient navigators specialize in motivational interviewing and in addressing the patient’s specific barriers to care. The navigators provide reminders, health education, support and even accompaniment, if needed, to ensure that patients get the care they need.


The Cancer and Specialty Patient Navigation Program, based at the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, strives to improve access to Cancer and Specialty care for vulnerable or high risk patients. The navigators work with patients who need breast, cervical, or colon cancer screening and help them through the cancer screening process at MGH. They help vulnerable patients who are referred to urgent follow up care at any MGH specialty or imaging department, and aid them in the coordination and completion of appointments. In addition, the navigators work with patients with abnormal findings and cancer diagnoses and help decrease barriers to timely follow-up care.

About this Program

Studies at MGH Chelsea have found that navigation helps to decrease disparities in cervical cancer, breast and colon cancer screening rates.

Breast Cancer

Since 2001, the Avon Foundation has generously provided critical funding to help Massachusetts General Hospital reduce disparities in breast cancer in Boston through the MGH Avon Breast Care Program. The goal of this program is to establish models for breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and care that would effectively penetrate the disadvantaged minority communities in greater Boston. The Avon Breast Care Program serves MGH Chelsea patients as well as patients from Mattapan Community Health Center and Harbor Health Services (Geiger Gibson, Neponset and Hyannis Community Health Centers). The program promotes screening, timely follow-up of abnormal findings, and ensures early detection and comprehensive treatment for patients with breast cancer. Since the programs’ inception, 11,588 patients have been served, including 232 patients with breast cancer

Cervical Cancer

The Cervical Health Outreach Program began in 2004 to reach out to MGH Chelsea patients with abnormal Pap smear results to reduce barriers to timely follow-up care and to educate patients on cervical health.

Colorectal Cancer

The Colorectal Cancer Screening Program is designed to improve colorectal cancer prevention and early detection in vulnerable MGH Chelsea patients. Its primary aim is to decrease disparities in colorectal cancer screening (CRCS) rates, and increase CRCS rates in low-income patients and patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) in Chelsea with a goal to reduce colorectal cancer for all patients served.


TopCare (Technology for Optimizing Population Care in a Resource-limited Environment) was established by MGH's General Medicine Department to increase cancer screening rates among vulnerable patients cared for in any primary care practice at MGH. A key part of TopCare is the navigation of patients who are at high risk of not completing preventive breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening.


2015 Outcomes

  • 999 Patients were contacted offering navigation assistance for cancer-related appointments; 771 patients arrived to a cancer-related appointment; 386 patients arrived to a cancer-related appointment for an abnormal follow-up; 341 abnormal follow-up breast appointments completed.
  • 11,289 patient activities conducted for cancer-related appointments- i.e: Appointment reminders, patient education, clinical communication, language, appointment preparation, translation, emotional support, scheduling assistance, addressing barriers to care, and patient motivation
  • 216 colonoscopies completed; 182 polyps removed ; 99 adenomas removed
  • 299 Patients arrived to a cancer screening appointment;
  • 113 Breast cancer screenings completed



  • Creating hope and inspiring action - 6/5/2015, Mass General

    On May 26, the MGH Cancer Center celebrated the eighth annual the one hundred, an event honoring 100 individuals and groups whose commitment to the fight against cancer creates hope and inspires action.

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