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Cancer Support Services

A diagnosis of cancer can be a life-altering experience that affects patients and their loved ones in many ways. The Cancer Care Center supports patients during all aspects of their care—from diagnosis through treatment and recovery. The Cancer Support Services Program is dedicated to providing patients and their loved ones with a comprehensive set of services that address a wide range of needs. Services include:

Patient Navigation

The Oncology Patient Navigation Program focuses on identifying and overcoming barriers that prevent patients from getting the treatment they need in a timely manner.

Patient navigators provide advocacy and case management to oncology patients who have at least one identified barrier to care. They work to empower patients by linking them to a broad range of services including, but not limited to, oncology support services, transportation, financial assistance, and appropriate community resources. Patient navigators frequently meet with patients during their oncology appointments and provide a great deal of behind the scenes support by reaching out to resources or other clinics on a patient's behalf.

Patient navigators assist with:

  • Appointment reminders
  • Helping patients understand complex treatment schedules
  • Transportation
  • Insurance questions
  • Interpreter services
  • Connecting patients to the Cancer Survivorship Program
  • Referrals to community resources

Goals of the Oncology Patient Navigation Program include decreasing cancer disparities, improving both patient and provider satisfaction, and providing patients with a one-to-one connection through all pieces of the healthcare process.

Social Work

Social workers are available to provide additional support services to patients and families and to help with emotional, psychological, and social service needs. They are available on inpatient and outpatient units. Social workers can meet with patients before or after their doctor's appointments. Patients can discuss these options with their physician or ask for a referral.


Nutritionists can address concerns about diet and nutrition during the course of a patient's cancer treatment. They are also available to meet before or after a patient's other appointments. Physicians and social workers can help patients who are interested in seeing a nutritionist.

Genetic Counseling

The Cancer Care Center offers genetic counseling services. A licensed genetic counselor will review the patient's medical information and detailed family history and perform an assessment to determine if a hereditary cancer predisposition may be increasing the risk for certain types of cancer in a person's family.

Appropriate screening and surveillance recommendations will be made and genetic testing may be discussed, including possible results and the meaning of the results for the patient and his or her family members. A referral for genetic counseling is appropriate for:

  • Those diagnosed with breast, colon, ovarian, uterine, stomach, or another type of cancer;
  • Those with multiple gastrointestinal polyps before the age of 50; and/or
  • Anyone with a strong family history of cancer (especially if family members have been diagnosed with cancer before the age of 50)

Patients should allow one hour for the appointment and bring any family history information that they can collect from family members, as well as any genetic test reports from family members who have previously pursued genetic testing.

For more information on diagnostic genetics at Boston Medical Center, please visit Diagnostic Genetics Services.