Promoting colorectal cancer screening in South Asian Muslims in the U.S.

Susan L. Ivey | School of Public Health | Journal of Cancer Education, 2020

Colorectal cancer is one of the more common forms of cancer in South Asian men and women. Despite the rates of colorectal cancer (CRC) in South Asians, the CRC screening rates remain low in South Asians and Muslims compared with those in Whites and other ethnic minorities in the USA. Religious and cultural barriers have been examined in relation to other types of cancer uch as breast and cervical cancers. However, few data are available about CRC screening among Muslims, particularly South Asian American Muslims. A community-based participatory research approach was used to assess attitudes toward CRC screening and various cultural, religious, and gender barriers that prevent CRC screening expressed by Muslim South Asian men and women in the larger San Francisco Bay Area. Six focus groups were conducted (three males and three females) with South Asian American Muslims. The focus groups consisted of a total sample size of n = 32, with 15 men and 17 women, with the average age of participants being 57 years old. This study highlighted key religious, cultural, and gender barriers to CRC screening including lack of awareness of CRC, the notion of fatalism as it relates to screening, lack of emphasis on preventive health, the need to preserve modesty, and stigma around certain CRC screening practices. Religiously tailored interventions and culturally sensitive healthcare providers are needed to better promote CRC screening in South Asian Muslim communities and to help inform the design of health interventions and outreach strategies.