News Release

May 24, 2006

Contact: Maureen McGuire, 860-679-4523

The Navigator Care Program

New Program for Women with Breast Cancer

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer can receive additional support through a new program at the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UConn Health Center. The Navigator Care Program pairs women with breast cancer with trained volunteers who literally help to “navigate” them through the different facets of their care.

“No one should go through breast cancer alone,” says Carolyn D. Runowicz, M.D., director of the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, president of the American Cancer Society and breast cancer survivor. “But in today’s world, it’s not always possible for family members and friends to be with a patient every step of the way during her care. That’s exactly why we’ve started the Navigator Care Program.

“The Navigator’s role is to listen to the patient’s concerns, accompany her to appointments, provide her with information about support groups and support services available at the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center and through the American Cancer Society, and generally provide comfort,” explains Dr. Runowicz.

It is an optional program for women and was designed to complement existing services available through UConn’s multidisciplinary breast program, she adds.

Many of the volunteers in the program are also involved with the Auxiliary of the American Cancer Society. For the past year, they have undergone training to learn about where, how and when various services are offered for breast cancer patients at the UConn Health Center. They have also become acquainted with the surgeons, oncologists, nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers, nutritionists, and others who are part of the breast team.

The volunteers share an “on call” schedule so someone is always available to talk to newly diagnosed patients within 24 to 48 hours.

“They gently guide women through the system and help them throughout their journey,” adds Nancy Baccaro, APRN, AOCN, the nurse practitioner on the breast team who works closely with the navigators. “This is all about giving patients one more person who is out there in the world saying, ‘how are you? I care about you,’ and offering to help.”

“Our goal is to do all we can to minimize the stress women experience when they are going through treatment for breast cancer and help them concentrate on their recovery and overall health,” says Dr. Runowicz.

The Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center provides a full spectrum of cancer services, from education and prevention strategies to early detection services, innovative, state-of-the-art treatments, reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation and support services. In addition, patients at the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center can participate in a range of clinical trials and research studies. Services are provided in a convenient location at the UConn Health Center campus in Farmington. For more information, visit

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

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