Community African Network

CAN

Bowel cancer awareness project

The Community African Network (CAN) through Hackney CVS received a grant from the Healthier City and Hackney Fund to pilot a new approach to increasing the awareness of bowel cancer and the uptake of bowel cancer screening in the older Black African community through targeted outreach and working with GP surgeries in low uptake areas in Hackney.

We spoke to Project Coordinator, Oladapo Awosokanre, pictured on the left, to find out more.

Why is this project important and needed?
About one in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime. It is the third most common cancer in the UK, and the second most common cause of cancer deaths, with over 16,000 people dying from it each year. Diagnosing bowel cancer early through population screening is anticipated to greatly improve health outcomes and reduce mortality from bowel cancer by up to 15%. The uptake of bowel cancer screening in Hackney (around 38%) is below the national average of 50%. There are even fewer uptakes from the Black African and minority ethnic communities. The Healthier City and Hackney Fund will pilot a new approach to increasing the awareness of bowel cancer and the uptake of bowel cancer screening in the older Black African community through targeted outreach and working with GP surgeries in low uptake areas.

What challenges do you face?
The main challenge will be changing the mindset of the Black African community in Hackney about cancer. From a cultural perspective admitting to having cancer carries a negative social stigma. The need to avoid unintended consequences, ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you’. Another challenge will be language, for those whose first language is not English.

What do you want to achieve?
By May 2019, we want at least 500 Black African residents aged between 58 and 74 to have an increased awareness of bowel cancer, to know the symptoms and how to reduce risk by making positive lifestyle choices. We also aim to achieve an increased uptake of bowel cancer screening within the Black African community.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
We want to put bowel cancer on the agenda in Hackney and we will welcome the support of local Black African organisations to achieve this. Culture, religion and the fear of social labelling should not be a barrier to bowel cancer screening.

Contact: Oladapo Awosokanre > tel: 020 7923 1962 | email: oladapo@hcvs.org.uk