Bowel Cancer Project

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Increasing Bowel Cancer Uptake in the African Community project

Community African Network received funding from Healthier and Hackney through Hackney CVS for a project on bowel cancer awareness and uptake within the older African community in Hackney between May 2018 – April 2019 and funding from City and Hackney CCG for a project on bowel cancer awareness and uptake within the older African community in Hackney from May 2019 – April 2020.

Working with member organisations within CAN and steering group members, it was agreed to implement the project using 3 strands. Using trained local volunteers; CAN organised outdoor outreach sessions in public spaces such as markets, local libraries, hairdresser’s salon, barbing salons, churches, and mosques among others. CAN facilitated awareness raising sessions in community centres with targeted populations and sending volunteers to Hackney GP practices directly engaging patients who have not returned their bowel cancer screening kits.

The project was evaluated using 3 criteria: the numbers of people reached in outreach, community sessions and GP follow-up sessions, the proportion of people reporting increased awareness and intention to screen, the percentage uptake of screening in the GP practice in the 6 months before and during the project.

Improving uptake of cancer screening is one of the four priorities in the Health Activities stream for Hackney CCG. Cancer awareness and uptake of cancer screening has been shown to be lower in Black Africans resulting in later presentation and poorer prognosis. Black Africans have been identified as having low awareness of cancer symptoms and cancer screening in East London and are thus more likely to present later and have poorer prognosis. Research suggests that face to face health promotion methods, video and culturally sensitive educational materials and community engagement and GP endorsement can be effective in improving cancer screening uptake in ethnic minority populations.

Previous projects and outreach work dealing with increasing uptake of bowel cancer screening have focused on improving the uptake of screening in the whole community. This project is specifically targeted at increasing uptake in the African community, using culturally specific media and African community champions. Research studies, in both East London and elsewhere, have found that the Black African group had the lowest awareness of bowel cancer and cancer symptoms, and the lowest uptakes of cancer screening. Although cancer survival data by ethnicity is sparse it is likely, for the above reasons, that survival in Africans is lower. Endorsement by a GP has been shown to increase uptake of screening