Breast and colorectal cancer are two leading causes of cancer death in the Latino community

PORTLAND, Ore. – Breast and colorectal cancer are two of the leading causes of cancer death in the Latino community. The good news is that when caught early, both of these cancers are often survivable. The bad news is that not enough Americans – especially in the Latino community – are getting regular cancer screenings. This means that Latinos are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a later, more advanced stage, and their survival rate is lower.

That’s why The Regence Foundation is awarding Portland-based nonprofit Familias en Acción a $90,000 grant to increase breast and colorectal cancer screening rates among Latinos in Washington and East Multnomah Counties.

Familias en Acción will use part of The Regence Foundation grant to hire a patient navigator to do community education about the importance of cancer screenings for men and women, work to remove any personal or cultural barriers that might prevent people from participating in screenings, help them set up an appointment, and help facilitate timely follow-up if needed. The program will target women over 40 years old who have rarely or never had a mammogram, and men and women over 50 years old who have rarely or never had a colonoscopy.

“Through our partnership with Familias en Acción and our own outreach to the Latino community, we’ve seen that a ‘navigator’ approach to health care works well,” said Peggy Maguire, Regence Foundation board chair. “The health care system is extremely complex and can be difficult to figure out, especially if English isn’t your first language. Having a guide or a navigator can help remove some of the barriers people face to getting the care and information they need.”

This is the second grant The Regence Foundation has awarded to Familias en Acción. It will build on the success of the “Mujer Sana, Familia Sana” (Healthy Woman, Healthy Family) program funded by The Foundation in 2010, which focused specifically on breast cancer screenings.

Key outcomes from Mujer Sana, Familia Sana:

  • Helped educate approximately 3000 women about importance of breast cancer screenings and early detection of cancer.
  • Provided cancer screenings to nearly 300 women, most of whom had never been screened.
  • Coordinated follow-up care for about 60 women whose screenings yielded suspicious findings. (Fourteen had abnormal findings. Six were diagnosed with breast cancer.)
  • Partnered with nearly 50 health care providers.

“What we heard from so many women who participated in the ‘Mujer Sana, Familia Sana’ program was that they didn’t want to get screened because they were afraid that they might have cancer. And if they did have cancer, they were worried about telling their families and the financial burden it would cause them,” said Marie Dahlstrom, executive director of Familias en Acción. “That’s where a patient navigator can be really helpful – to address patients’ fears, help overcome barriers (financial, linguistic, cultural), and ensure patients have the information they need to make choices about their treatment.”

This Regence Foundation grant comes from the Regence Fund at the Oregon Community Foundation.

About The Regence Foundation
The Regence Foundation is the corporate foundation of Regence, the largest health insurer in the Northwest/Intermountain region and a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. A 501(c)3 grantmaking organization, the Foundation partners with organizations driving significant change in health care delivery and accessibility in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Through its Sojourns program, the Foundation also supports organizations advancing quality palliative and end-of-life care. For more information, visit or

About Familias en Acción
The mission of Familias en Acción is to promote holistic family well-being for Latinos through community engagement, education, research and advocacy for social change. For more information visit