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Public Health - Family Health

Posted on: September 1, 2017

Public Health Division Receives $100,000 Grant to Improve Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates

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The City of Portland Public Health Division’s Minority Health Program is pleased to announce that the Maine Cancer Foundation has awarded it with a two-year, $100,000 grant to assist the efforts in increasing colorectal cancer screening rates and improve the colorectal health for the vulnerable populations from Greater Portland.

“We are very excited that our partnership will help increase access to colorectal screening and enhance colorectal health among the underserved populations in Greater Portland,” said Nelida Berke, Minority Health Program Coordinator for the City’s Public Health Division. 

The City’s Minority Health Program in partnership with Maine Medical Partners – Portland Family Medicine (MMP-PFM) will work to overcome barriers to Colorectal Cancer (CRC) screening. The program will serve 262 identified low-income and underserved Arabic, English, French, Kinyarwanda, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese-speaking patients of MMP-PFM in need of CRC screening, and will provide tailored outreach, education, and assistance to these groups aimed at reducing the disparities in CRC incidence, prevalence, and mortality. Seven Community Health Outreach Workers (CHOWs) will serve patients who are enrolled in Medicaid or fall within the Uncompensated Care patient population and assist them in getting screened (FIT Testing or Colonoscopy). The grant award covers a project implementation starting September 1st, 2017 through August 31st, 2019.

Colorectal cancer is preventable and is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in Maine. Colorectal cancer is also the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States and the second leading cause in men. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year 50,260 people will die from this disease, although the incidence and death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping during the last decade due to prevention and early detection screenings. In 2010, only 59% of people age 50 or older, for whom screening is recommended, reported having received colorectal cancer testing consistent with current guidelines.  

For more information, contact Nélida R. Berke, Minority Health Program Coordinator, at (207) 874-8773 or email her at

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