Program Hopes to Increase Cancer Screenings for Somali-American Women

Image Source: Riham Feshir

A program is aiming to increase the number of cancer screenings among Somali-American women by educating community members and addressing commonly held misconceptions about cancer screenings.

For the past two years, University of Minnesota health professionals have partnered with the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Minneapolis to provide workshops for its members. The workshops include lectures and focus groups to discuss why some fear testing, especially for treatable cancers.

"Some Somali women, they don't participate in this screening because of maybe the modesty issue because of the faith," said Imam Sharif Mohamed in an interview with MPR. "And I think that's not right."

Mohamed says the program has help change how the community feels about cancer screenings.

Rebekah Pratt, PhD, has found that Somali women have the highest rates of cervical cancer in the world. While the national average for mammogram screenings is 72 percent, she found that only 8 percent of Somali women receive the screenings.

"Maybe if you've seen a lot of patients that do have a lot of knowledge, maybe you forget to go back a step. This might be the first time someone has heard about cancer screening at all," Dr. Pratt told MPR. "Working in the context of the mosque might be the best way to do that."

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