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What Can a Cancer Navigator Do for Me?

The cancer navigator helps people get past barriers that keep them from getting quality cancer care and the help they need during and after cancer treatment. The navigator can help find support for their caregivers and families too.

Cancer navigators start by talking with the person with cancer. They ask questions to find out what the person needs and what might keep them from getting the care they need.  After their talk, navigators may then be able to:

  • Answer questions and give them the information they need to help with make decisions.
  • Help get them the resources they need.
  • Help communicate with their health care providers.
  • Coordinate care by making appointments and helping patients get to them.
  • Get them support and resources for any practical, physical, social, spiritual, and mental health challenges.
  • Follow up to check for new or ongoing questions and needs.

How do patient navigators help people with cancer?

Many things can stand in the way of a person with cancer getting the care they need.

Navigators can help with practical needs

  • Transportation
  • Understanding and managing insurance
  • Money concerns
  • Paying for or getting medications
  • Having enough food
  • Lodging
  • Child and elder care
  • Work and school-related issues
  • Interpreters for people whose first language is not English

Navigators can help with physical needs

  • Dealing with side effects of treatment
  • Improving the person’s ability take care of themselves
  • Getting equipment such as prostheses, ostomy supplies, and wigs
  • Getting devices to help with movement and walking (mobility), such as a wheelchair or walker.
  • Getting referrals for physical, occupational, or speech therapy
  • Getting a referral for home care, palliative care, or hospice care

Navigators can help with social and emotional needs


The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patient Navigation. Accessed at on June 12, 2023.

Franklin E, Burke S, Dean M, Johnston D, Nevidjon B & Booth LS.  Oncology navigation standards of professional practice. J Oncol Navig Surviv. 2022; 13.

Natale-Pereira A, Enard KR, Nevarez L, Jones LA. The role of patient navigators in eliminating health disparities. Cancer. 2011;117(15 Suppl): 3543-3552.

National Cancer Institute. Financial navigator. Accessed at on June 9, 2023.

National Cancer Institute. The Patient Navigator Research Program (PNRP). Accessed at on June 12, 2023.

Wells KJ, Wightman P, Cobian Aguilar R, et al. Comparing clinical and nonclinical cancer patient navigators: A national study in the United States. Cancer. 2022;128 Suppl 13(Suppl 13): 2601-2609. 

Last Revised: June 21, 2023

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