Bowel Cancer Project


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. The project has continued through follow-up funding from City and Hackney CCG from May 2019 – April 2020 and October 2021 – March 2023.

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.

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.

The latest grant (Oct 2021 – Mar 2023) from Hackney and City ICP aimed to improve the uptake of colorectal cancer screening in Hackney and the City initially amongst the Rising 56’s, with a particular focus on men, who are statistically less likely to engage and BME communities. The initial two-year colorectal cancer screening uptake project identified some of the key barriers to the low uptake of screening by African people. This project using lessons learnt from the existing work and cultural intelligence will seek to overcome the barriers posed by religion, beliefs, culture, social stigma and therapeutic support. This project recruited volunteers to engage patients through our partnership with GP surgeries by educating and encourage the target group to undertake the bowel cancer screening.