As first lady Jill Biden remarked last year, we are living in a "golden age" of cancer research and discovery. Thanks to advances made in genomics and new targeted and immuno-oncological treatments, survival rates for many cancers have increased dramatically. Survival rates for multiple myeloma, for example, have doubled over the past 20 years. 

These remarkable advances, however, translate into a vastly more complex care landscape for patients and their families to navigate. With cancer now topping the list of companies' most costly health conditions, benefits advisors and self-insured employers seeking to offer access to the most advanced care and support must weigh several key considerations as they evaluate health care and benefits programs for employees. The right health care navigation partner should play a key role in guiding employees through this difficult journey.

Cancer care is different

Health care navigation, as an umbrella term, refers to services that help patients access and coordinate their care. As the cost and complexity of health care have increased for employers and their employees, expert personalized care navigation has gone from being a nice-to-have benefit to becoming a crucial factor for managing runaway costs and ensuring the best possible health outcomes. Nowhere is this more the case than with cancer care. Seventy years ago, medical knowledge doubled every 50 years; today it doubles every 73 days. What were once thought to be a small number of cancer types are now understood to be numerous subtypes and variants. Oncology as we know it is, in fact, multiple subspecialties defined by site of origin and DNA blueprint — each with distinct and rapidly evolving targeted therapies and treatment paths, depending on the individual and their circumstances. As cancer care becomes more personalized and specialized through advances in precision medicine, gene-based therapy, immunotherapy and other innovations, many oncologists are simply unable to keep up — nor can they be expected to in the face of such rapid change. 

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