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Georgia Society of Clinical Oncology - GASCO

2009 Symposium Release

GASCO Cancer Patient Navigation Meeting July 26
To Feature National Leaders & Plan New State Organization

Cancer patient navigators throughout Georgia are invited to attend a one-day conference on July 26, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta featuring a keynote address by Dr. Harold Freeman, considered the “father” of the patient navigation movement. Dr. Freeman is the President and Founder of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention in New York and Senior Advisor to the Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The program is being offered free to participants as a part of the annual meeting of the Georgia Society for Clinical Oncology (GASCO).

Also addressing the conference will be Caroline Huffman, Director of Patient Navigation Services for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) and Dr. Sheryl Gabram-Mendola, Professor of Surgery, Emory University, Winship Cancer Institute and
Director, AVON Comprehensive Breast Center at Grady.

Patient Navigation in cancer care refers to individualized assistance offered to patients, families and caregivers to help overcome barriers to obtaining the best resources to deal with their individual situation. Navigators facilitate timely access to quality medical and psychosocial care from pre-diagnosis through all phases of the cancer experience. Some navigators also help patients with financial issues.
Anyone who performs cancer patient navigation functions in Georgia can register for the conference at www.gasco.us. GASCO is offering this program at no charge to persons involved in cancer patient navigation, but space is limited and advance registration is required.
Working in cooperation with the Georgia Cancer Coalition (GCC), GASCO conducted a survey to assess cancer patient navigation resources in Georgia and determine statewide interest in forming a professional organization. This project was funded by a state affiliate grant from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

“Survey results demonstrated tremendous interest in forming an organization that would support cancer patient navigators with education, resources and networking opportunities. Those attending this symposium will have the opportunity to play a key role in planning this important group,” says Dr. Matt Mumber, GASCO President.

Program faculty are recognized for their groundbreaking work in improving access to quality care for underserved populations. Dr. Freeman served as national president of the American Cancer Society from 1988-1989 and initiated Patient Navigation as part of his personal crusade to improve medical care for the less fortunate. Using free and low-cost screening mammography, improved outreach and public education, and patient navigation, he achieved dramatically improved results in treating cancer patients for uninsured and underinsured populations at earlier stages at Harlem Hospital.

Similar results have been found in other communities, including Atlanta. Research at Grady Hospital showed that community education and internal navigation programs could lead to a significant shift in stage at diagnosis of breast cancer among African American women. That study was conducted by Dr. Gabram-Mendola, a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar.

Patient Navigation Services are also a major strategic priority for LAF. Caroline Huffman, LCSW, M.Ed, is spearheading that initiative after having lead such LIVESTRONG national initiatives as SurvivorCare and the Survivorship Center of Excellence Network.

“Patient Navigation is a key component of Georgia’s State Cancer Plan for Comprehensive Cancer Control as well as the state clinical alliance working with St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System in Savannah on the National Cancer Institute’s Community Cancer Center’s Program, “ says Angie Patterson, COO of the Georgia Cancer Coalition. “ The concept has received national attention in the policymaking and health care communities. We are delighted to partner with GASCO on this important conference and in making a Georgia cancer patient navigation organization a reality.”

For further information on the July 26 Cancer Patient Navigator conference, go to www.gasco.us or www.georgiacancer.org.