Cancer awareness for ethnic minorities

Ethnic Minorities Cancer Awareness

South Asian women are less likely to develop breast cancer, Afro-Caribbean men are three times more likely than Europeans to develop prostate cancer, mouth cancer is more common among people from South Asia and liver cancer is a greater risk to Bangladeshi and Chinese communities.

These are just some of the examples which illustrate how, despite living side by side in the same country, different ethnic communities in the UK experience certain types of cancer at different levels.

There are a number of reasons why this may be the case – some communities may be less aware of cancer and use health services less frequently or they may have different lifestyle habits such as drinking less or smoking more.

This is why Maya Monteiro, Health Professionals Programme Manager at World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF UK), went along to the recent meeting held by Breast Cancer Care and Cancer Equality to mark Ethnic Minorities Cancer Awareness Week.

The day included awareness workshops on breast, prostate and cervical cancer, as well as providing a valuable opportunity to share best practice with other charities and health professionals. There was also a chance to hear the feedback from members of ethnic minorities about their experiences.

Language problems, difficulties communicating cancer awareness messages, generational differences, assumptions about ‘one size fits all’ health provision, lack of trust in health professionals and preference for traditional medicines were among some of the barriers discussed.

And there were some interesting suggestions as to how we overcome these hurdles – new methods of communicating such as through music, the use of videos and case studies to reach the audience and using community leaders and connections to get the message about cancer awareness home.

WCRF UK is hoping to introduce a number of resources for ethnic minorities in the future to help spread awareness that cancer is a largely preventable disease which can be tackled through adopting a healthier diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.

To be kept updated on the new resources available to promote cancer prevention to ethnic minority groups, sign up to our health professionals e-newsletter.


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