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Boston Public Health Commission and Colon Cancer Coalition Partner to Improve Colon Cancer Screening for Communities of Color

Multilingual campaign targets Boston communities with high rates of colon cancer and related mortality

BOSTON (Friday, March 29, 2024) – The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) and the Colon Cancer Coalition are partnering to help save lives from colon cancer, especially in communities of color that are at higher risk. Data show cancer is one of the leading causes of early death for Boston residents under 65 years old, and colon cancer is among the leading common causes of cancer mortality. Because colon cancer screening can help catch cancer early when it’s most treatable, BPHC and the Coalition launched a multilingual campaign to encourage early screening, especially in Black and Latinx communities. The campaign began this March during Colon Cancer Awareness Month and includes messages in English, Haitian Creole, and Spanish. 

"The death rate from colon cancer is highest among Black Bostonians. Yet, dying from colon cancer is largely preventable,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “Improving access to a screening will help ensure early detection and better health outcomes. I’m thankful the Coalition is partnering with BPHC to help increase awareness and improve access to colonoscopy.” 

Data show that less than 50% of adults in Boston who are 50 years or older received a colonoscopy. Black residents are diagnosed with and die from colon cancer at higher rates compared to their white neighbors. Black men die at a rate twice that of white men, while Black women have a mortality rate of 13.8 per 100,000, 70% higher than white women. 

“We are honored to support the Boston Public Health Commission’s work to reach Bostonians with targeted messages in their native languages about the important lifesaving message of colon cancer screening,” says Chris Evans, president of the Colon Cancer Coalition. “Early detection of colon cancer is key to effective treatment of this disease that affects one out of 24 people. This campaign helps raise awareness by educating everyone about the symptoms of colon cancer, encouraging folks to learn their family health history, and scheduling routine screenings. We are proud that we can support Bostonians in this way and many others.” 

“We hope this campaign will help reduce mortality from cancer in Boston,” said Mark Kennedy, Senior Program Manager for the Boston Public Health Commission’s Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Division. “The campaign was created with input from Boston residents, and we are also taking a longitudinal approach to implementation that will directly engage Black and Latinx communities in Boston.” 

For this campaign, BPHC and the Coalition facilitated focus groups and interviews with community members to develop multilingual messaging and materials that resonate with high-risk individuals and those with family history of colon cancer. These messages can be seen in MBTA stations, bus stops, community health centers, newspapers and advertisements, and social media. Each message features a Boston resident who is a community champion in their neighborhood and is sharing their experience to highlight the importance of colon cancer screening and early detection. Learn more at

The Community Champions are: 

  • Dieufort J Fleuissant, Pastor, Total Health Christian Ministries 

  • Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Colorectal Cancer Survivor and Scholar 

  • Brenda Lormil-Raymond, Nurse Practitioner 

  • Marta Rivera, Commissioner of Boston Centers for Youth & Families  

  • Alberto Vasallo, III, President and CEO, El Mundo Boston 

  • Jo-Ann Winbush, Patient Experience Manager, Codman Square Health Center 

  • Dr. Adoja Anyane-Yeboa, gastroenterologist 


The funds supporting this initiative were raised through the Colon Cancer Coalition’s annual Get Your Rear in Gear run/walk event held each fall in Boston. Following this roll-out in Boston with BPHC, the Coalition hopes to be able replicate this effort and outreach in additional communities across the country. 

Get Your Rear in Gear – Boston is planned for Saturday, September 21, 2024, at DCR Mother’s Rest at Carson Beach in South Boston. Registration, information about volunteering, fundraising, sponsoring the event or forming a team can also be found at  


 About the Boston Public Health Commission 

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is the country’s oldest health department and envisions a thriving Boston where all residents live healthy and fulfilling lives. To accomplish this, BPHC works in partnership with communities to protect and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, especially those impacted by racism and systemic inequities. Learn more about our work at  

About the Colon Cancer Coalition / Get Your Rear in Gear® 

The Colon Cancer Coalition is dedicated to encouraging screening and raising awareness of colorectal cancer. The organization’s signature Get Your Rear in Gear® event series is volunteer-driven in communities throughout the United States. Annually, the Colon Cancer Coalition grants over $1 million dollars to local communities to build and sustain programs promoting early prevention, screening, and research, as well as patient support efforts for those living with this disease. By making the words colon, colorectal and colonoscopy a part of everyday language, the Colon Cancer Coalition believes we can overcome fear and decrease deaths from this largely preventable cancer. For more information visit  


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Colon Cancer Campaign - Dieufort

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