Ermelinda Bonaccio, MD, Clinical Chief of the Breast Imaging Center at Roswell Park.

Expanded Roswell Park Breast Cancer Navigation Program Will Benefit Women Across Region

State funds enable broader access to one-on-one guides to help women access services, get recommended screenings

  • Roswell Park breast cancer navigation program expands
  • Personal guides help underserved women access mammography/breast imaging
  • Goal of statewide effort is to increase breast cancer screening by 10%

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Patient navigators serve as personal health care guides, maintaining one-on-one relationships with patients and their families. Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center has expanded its breast cancer navigation program due, in part, to a new contract from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Breast Cancer Patient Navigation Project.

Roswell Park received the funding to expand services to enable women from underserved communities, regardless of their insurance status, to navigate the healthcare system and complete breast cancer screening through mammograms or other recommended breast imaging technologies. The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) Patient Navigation Project is one of a number of programs that are part of New York State Governor Cuomo’s statewide initiative to increase breast cancer screening by 10% over the next five years.

“New York State is taking the most aggressive actions in the nation to improve access to breast cancer screening, helping women get the care they need and deserve. Through the ‘Get Screened, No Excuses’ campaign, Governor Cuomo has prioritized the expansion of outreach efforts across the State. Thanks to state-supported initiatives like Roswell Park’s Navigation Program, patient navigators are available to help underserved women access and navigate the healthcare system to obtain breast cancer screenings. Early detection reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer, and I encourage all New York women to talk to their health care provider about getting screened,” says New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

“Roswell Park is honored to participate in this effort, which will enhance our existing innovative program,” adds Ermelinda Bonaccio, MD, Clinical Chief of the Breast Imaging Center at Roswell Park. “This project proactively reaches underserved women who are most in need of greater access to screening services, providing a critical link to local resources that will improve their quality of life and potentially save their life.”

The NAPBC Patient Navigation project began in October 2016 with the goals of: 1) increasing the number of women screened for breast cancer and 2) improving the quality of breast cancer screening and diagnostic follow-up by enhancing existing patient navigation services. The project is being implemented with support from Health Research Inc. and the New York State Department of Health.

At Roswell Park, patient navigators work directly with patients to assess their personal, physical, cultural and other needs that impact screening adherence and patient satisfaction. They help schedule appointments, address personal challenges, explain screening options and promote general behaviors that help to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Kristy Tyson, Community Patient Navigator in Roswell Park’s Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, collaborates with the Witness Project and Esperanza y Vida, two outreach programs operated by Roswell Park’s Office of Cancer Health Disparities Research that serve women throughout Western New York. Tyson hopes to engage other community organizations moving forward. A bilingual Spanish-speaking navigator is also available.

“Roswell Park patient navigators are trained, culturally competent health care workers who guide patients, family members and physicians through the health care system to ensure that their needs are being met,” says Christy Widman, Community Outreach Manager at Roswell Park.

Roswell Park was awarded the contract, along with other centers throughout the state, in part because the Institute has earned accreditation from the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. The New York state project is being implemented with support from Health Research Inc. and the New York State Department of Health.


About Roswell Park:
The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, Roswell Park is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.

Media Contact

Deborah Pettibone, Public Information Specialist