Patient Navigator Programs for Cancer Patients: Two Free Services

Patient Navigator Programs for Cancer Patients
This page was originally published September 15, 2018 and updated June 1, 2024.

A patient navigator is a professional who helps cancer patients get the quality care they deserve. From coordinating treatment to assisting with financial issues, patient navigators are available to make the journey easier. These experts often offer their services for free from within national cancer support groups as a special program.

History of Patient Navigation

Patient navigation isn’t brand new. The concept grew out of the findings of the 1989 American Cancer Society National Hearings on Cancer in the Poor. These experts found that:

  • Low income patients encounter more barriers in seeking and obtaining cancer care and often do not seek care if they cannot afford it
  • Lower income patients endure greater pain and suffering from cancer than other Americans
  • Lower income Americans and their families often make extraordinary personal sacrifices to obtain and pay for care.
  • Fatalism about cancer is prevalent among lower income patients and may prevent them from seeking care.
  • Current cancer educational schemes are tone deaf and insensitive for many lower income patients, rendering the programs largely irrelevant

Overcoming Barriers

The first patient navigation system was established in New York City, specifically Harlem, in 1990 by Dr. Harold Freeman. The most common barriers to immediate treatments were:

  • Financial and access barriers, such as no health insurance
  • Communication and information barriers – such as non-native speakers of English
  • Medical system barriers
  • Fear, distrust, and emotional barriers

Since the initial program’s introduction, it has expanded in scope to include prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship issues faced by cancer patients.

How a Cancer Navigator Can Help You

Navigating through your cancer journey can often feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to go through it alone. A cancer navigator is there to guide and support you every step of the way. They can help you understand your diagnosis, make informed decisions about your treatment, and access the care you need. They can also assist you in addressing any concerns you may have, such as financial worries, language barriers, or fears about the medical system. Remember, they are there to help remove barriers, allowing you to focus more on your recovery and less on the logistics of your care. Your journey is important, and a cancer navigator is there to make it as smooth and manageable as possible.

  • Guidance Through Complex Healthcare System: Navigators help patients understand the intricacies of the healthcare system and make it less daunting.
  • Coordination of Care: They ensure that all healthcare providers involved in a patient’s care are working in unison.
  • Emotional Support: Navigators provide emotional support, reducing the stress and fear associated with a cancer diagnosis.
  • Financial Counseling: They provide assistance with financial matters, helping patients understand their insurance coverage and find resources to help cover costs.
  • Overcoming Communication Barriers: For non-native English speakers, navigators can help bridge the language gap, ensuring clear and effective communication with healthcare providers.
  • Streamlining Appointments: They assist in scheduling and coordinating appointments, ensuring timely diagnosis and treatment.
  • Resource Linkage: Navigators can connect patients with community resources and support groups, providing additional avenues of support.
  • Education: They help patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options, empowering them to make informed decisions about their care.

Your journey through cancer is a personal one, and the support you receive should be tailored to your unique needs and circumstances. As a cancer patient, you’re not alone in this process. The role of a cancer navigator is to ensure that you’re provided with the assistance, guidance, and resources you need throughout your journey. By helping you understand your diagnosis, coordinating your care, providing emotional support, and assisting with financial and communication barriers, patient navigators make your journey smoother and less daunting. You are their priority, and they are here to ensure that you can focus on your recovery. Make sure to utilize their services and benefit from the support they offer as you navigate through your journey of healing and recovery.

Two Free Pro Navigation Programs

If you have recently been diagnosed, here are two free cancer support programs to help you get the care you need:

Lazarex Cancer Foundation will match you to a nationwide cancer clinical trials program and help you with the costs associated with participating including transportation (airfare, gas, rental cars, taxi fare, parking/tolls), lodging (short- and long-term housing) and certain medical expenses not covered by insurance and necessary for clinical trial treatment. For immediate free assistance, visit or call toll free 877-866-9523.

The American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program connects you with a cancer care expert who works with you one-on-one to resolve care, workplace, and financial issues. Call (800) 227-2345 to get the help you need today for free.

More Free Professional Navigation Programs

For more free professional patient navigation programs, please visit the Cancer Care News national directory of no-cost programs here:

Free professional counseling and support for cancer patients

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Cancer Care News is a non-profit 501(c)(3) sharing evidence-based cancer updates & financial resources for patients & families in the USA. Please share the information you find helpful with others in need.


  1. Just a quick note to say I appreciate all you’re doing to help cancer patients. My mom was diagnosed at the beginning of the year and I am so thankful I found this site. It’s helped a lot.

    • Maria, we are very sorry to hear about your mother’s cancer diagnosis but are happy to hear the resources we list have been of some help to your family. All the best to you and hope your mother is doing well.

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