Nurse Navigators Help Reduce Time to Breast Cancer Surgery

The study covered in this summary was published on as a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed.

Key Takeaway

  • Nurse navigators significantly decreased the time to lumpectomy for women with high-risk breast biopsy results.

Why This Matters

  • Studies have shown that timeliness of care improves when nurses help patients with cancer navigate the logistics of treatment.

  • The findings confirm a similar benefit for patients who undergo lumpectomy for high-risk breast pathology findings.

  • The investigators suggest implementing nurse navigation programs, when possible.

Study Design

  • The team compared the timing of lumpectomy for 100 patients with high-risk breast pathology findings who were assigned nurse navigators with 29 patients who were not assigned nurse navigators (because the program wasn’t available at the time).

Key Results

  • The time from surgery referral to consult was 5 days shorter for patients with nurse navigators, and the time from surgical consults to surgery was 16.9 days shorter.

  • Nurse navigators were an independent predictor of shorter time to care; race and distance to the hospital were not associated with time to care.

  • The benefit diminished once patients had entered the hospital system: The researchers found no difference between the two groups in time from surgery to first follow-up visit or from surgery to reoperation.


  • It was a single-center, retrospective, nonrandomized study with a small number of participants.


  • No funding for the study was reported, and the investigators did not report any relevant financial relationships.

This is a summary of a preprint research study, “The Impact of Nurse Navigation on Timeliness to Treatment for Benign High-Risk Breast Pathology,” led by Catherine Shirer Barker of the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, provided to you by Medscape. The study has not been peer reviewed. The full text can be found at

M. Alexander Otto is a physician assistant with a master’s degree in medical science and a journalism degree from Newhouse. He is an award-winning medical journalist who has worked for several major news outlets before joining Medscape and also an MIT Knight Science Journalism fellow. Email: [email protected].

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