In April 2023, the US Department of Health and Human Services released the National Cancer Plan developed by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.1 This large-scale framework calls for collaboration among partners in government, nonprofit, academic, and commercial sectors across cancer care that will provide the American people the full benefit of each partner’s contribution. The National Cancer Plan has 3 elements—goals, strategies, and a call to action. The plan establishes 8 goals, including steps to prevent cancer, reduce mortality from cancer, and maximize quality of life for people living with cancer. Along with each of the 8 goals comes a set of strategies that describe essential research directions and implementation activities necessary to maximize benefits for everyone. The plan’s call to action encourages individuals to be involved in improving health literacy and addressing misinformation, being active in one’s personal health, helping friends and neighbors who are facing cancer, and supporting programs that promote healthy communities.
Oncology patient navigators can and do contribute to each of these 8 goals. Their ongoing work helps prevent cancer, enhance early detection, eliminate inequities, address the needs of the patient to deliver optimal care, and engage all patients for an opportunity to participate in research.
I offer a huge shout-out to every patient, nurse, and social work navigator who has contributed and continues to contribute to the success of the National Cancer Plan with evidence-based practices. In addition, the evidence supporting the impact of oncology navigation across the cancer continuum is far-reaching across varied communities. It is time for government agencies, payers, healthcare systems, and all sectors to recognize the value of oncology navigation to adapt to the needs of each community in America and to implement solutions to achieve each goal in the National Cancer Plan.
- US Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute. National Cancer Plan. Accessed September 7, 2023. https://nationalcancerplan.cancer.gov/national-cancer-plan.pdf