Providing cancer prevention education and screening to Southeast Asian communities

April 26, 2017

By Ann Mallari

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® has awarded community grants for cancer prevention and early detection projects in 29 states, tribes and territories, from remote and rural areas to sprawling cities. Our community grantees work hard to reach underserved populations so everyone can get the education, screening or treatment he or she needs. For Minority Health Month this year, we’re highlighting two projects focused on educating and screening Southeast Asian refugees and immigrants.

The Milwaukee Consortium for Hmong Health is working on increasing cancer literacy and early detection in local Southeast Asian refugee communities. Lack of awareness of cancer prevention and screening, low literacy and lack of experience with Western medicine are just a few of the barriers that Southeast Asian refugees face. The Milwaukee project, “Healthy Families, Healthy Communities: Engaging Southeast Asian Families through Culturally Appropriate Lay Cancer Education,” aims to educate 125 Hmong, Burmese and other Southeast Asian refugees through small-group workshops led by cancer health educators from their respective communities.

The bilingual and bicultural community health workers increase knowledge and encourage positive attitudes toward cancer prevention and early detection in their communities. Executive Director Mayhoua Moua says that this project has “the potential to reduce disparities in Southeast Asian refugee populations, improve health equity through earlier detection of cancer and earlier entry into treatment and also improve cancer survival rates.”

In Philadelphia, SEAMAAC, Inc.’s Cancer Prevention Program uses bilingual and bicultural staff to conduct cancer prevention workshops in several Asian languages, including Cambodian, Vietnamese and Mandarin. By the end of the grant period, SEAMAAC, Inc., aims to have completed 12 workshops, reaching 120 community members in several languages.

In addition to health education workshops, the program also plans to schedule appointments with primary care physicians and navigate at least 100 individuals through cancer screening appointments.

Health and Social Services Director Amy Jones, MSW, LSW, explains, “It is very difficult for most people to navigate the health insurance and health care system in the United States in order to get cancer screenings. The communities served by SEAMAAC face additional barriers to accessing cancer screenings…SEAMAAC is able to reach those who are isolated from the mainstream due to cultural and linguistic barriers, poverty, immigration status and fear.”

These projects are just two of the many community grants the Foundation has awarded to organizations working in unique and vulnerable populations. To learn more about the Foundation’s work in underserved populations, visit preventcancer.org.

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