Early detection of cancer is one of the best ways for lowering cancer-related deaths, but research shows that there are large disparities between ethnic groups when it comes to screening uptake.
There are many reasons why some people may not take up screening, from difficulty attending appointments, unawareness about its importance to fear of the potential result. A recent study* found that Black people are 38% less likely than White people to be diagnosed with cancer via screening in England, highlighting the need for more targeted efforts to reduce any barriers to access and increase cancer screening levels amongst ethnic minority groups.
To address this, a partnership between Croydon BME forum, The Asian Resource Centre of Croydon and RM Partners launched the Cancer Awareness Programme for residents in March 2022.
The programme aims to:
- inform and educate residents about cancer and the importance of cancer screening
- increase uptake of cancer screening and reduce health inequalities within the Black community
- create a trusted and safe environment for residents to engage with health professionals
Through free coffee mornings, focus groups and virtual workshops hosted by trusted clinicians including breast surgeons and GPs, The BME Forum firstly sets out to understand people’s attitudes towards screening. Using this local knowledge, workshops are then created to respond to queries and provide accurate and culturally sensitive information in a relaxed environment.
To date the programme has engaged with over 100 people and is serving to create an opportunity to explain what screening involves, its importance and to encourage residents to attend screening appointments when invited. These informal gatherings have also allowed residents to ask questions they may be reluctant to in clinical settings.
More about the programme
Lorraine Chang-Edwards, Cancer Awareness Project Co-ordinator, Croydon BME Forum, shared more about the awareness programme.
“This is a great opportunity for the local Black community to come together and gain more knowledge about the importance of cancer screening. Screening programmes have a valuable role to play in diagnosing cancer earlier, and we’re keen to understand what access barriers people may be facing and how to reduce these. I believe in the saying ‘each one should teach one’ and I’m personally learning & growing along the way.”
“It’s vital that we create outreach and awareness programmes that are culturally sensitive and understanding. We’re here to listen carefully, educate and encourage residents. For some people it’s fear of screening results, for others it’s not knowing the importance of screening. We’re hoping to change that.”
Cancer health champions
“We’re big on community support and recognise the positive impact of peer support for our community members. We offer free training to local volunteers to enable them to become Cancer Health Champions. They’re essential in creating community awareness about screening and supporting our projects to ensure we understand the needs of the community and that we reach into the community with important health guidance.”
From 25 July – 5 August we’re hosting The Man Van at Beulah Family church, a mobile health clinic that offers free health checks for men in a private and informal environment. The van will be providing prostate cancer screenings along with checks for diabetes and hypertension.
Find out more
What is cancer screening?
Getting a cancer diagnosis can be life changing but making sure you get screened for cancer can give you some peace of mind. Cancer screening programmes save lives by preventing cancer from occurring or identifying it earlier when treatment is more likely to be effective.
- Cancer screening is a test that looks for early signs of cancer in people without symptoms.
- It can help spot cancers at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to be successful. Cervical screening can even prevent cancer from developing.
- Cancer screening is for people with no symptoms at all. If you have symptoms – tell your doctor as soon as possible.
There are 3 national screening programmes in the UK, for bowel cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer. Screening for cervical cancer is offered to women aged 25 to 64, breast cancer screening is offered to women aged 50 to 70, and everyone aged 60 to 74 is offered a bowel cancer screening home test kit every two years. You’ll be invited for screening when the time is right by your GP.