Breast Cancer Champions: a peer-to-peer education and mobile mammography program improving breast cancer screening rates for women of African heritage

David Haynes, Kelly Hughes, McKenna K. Haas, Gay Lynn Richards, Benita Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Nationally, women of African heritage die at higher rates from breast cancer than women of other races or ethnicities. We developed Breast Cancer Champions (BCC) a peer-to-peer education program, which recruited 12 women and deployed them into the community in August 2020 during the height of the COVID pandemic. BCC aims to improve breast cancer screening rates for women of African heritage through peer-to-peer education, which has proven successful for addressing cancer-related health disparities. Methods: BCC community experts, or “Champions,” are peer-to-peer educators that conduct awareness and screening events in their communities. Champion’s education activities were tracked by bi-weekly check-in calls, which recorded the activity type, location, and the number of participants for each event. We used spatial and statistical analyses to determine the efficacy of the program at increasing screening rates for women within the area of Champion activity versus women outside of their activity area. Results: Over 15 months, Champions conducted 245 in-person or online events to engage women in their community for screening. More women of African heritage were screened in areas Champions were active during the intervention compared to historical data comparing areas outside of the Champion activity in the prior 15 months (X 2 = 3.0845, p = 0.079). Conclusion: BCC successes could be attributed to pivoting to online community building when in-person events were restricted and enabling Champions to design and conduct their own events, which increased outreach possibilities. We demonstrate improved screening outcomes associated with an updated peer-to-peer education program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-633
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
BCC is a community-government-academic partnership that aims to improve breast cancer outcomes for women of African heritage. The collaboration is supported by the Masonic Cancer Center (MCC) at the University of Minnesota, the Sage Program at the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Breast Cancer Education Association (Fig. ). Specifically, the Masonic Cancer Center supports geospatial analysis of breast cancer screening disparities and leveraged existing community engagement efforts to help recruit community experts as Champions [, ]. In particular, Hughes et al., allowed the Sage Program to understand the effectiveness of historical breast cancer screening efforts at the sub-county level, by calculating an expected number of women eligible for screening and comparing that with the number of women screened over a period of time. The Sage Program subsidizes health services costs by paying for mammograms for women screened through Breast Cancer Champions. The Breast Cancer Education Association recruited, organized, and managed the Champions program. Minneapolis is home to the largest population of Somali immigrants in the United States. Figure , reflects some of the ethnic identities BCEA recruited for community experts as our goal was to connect with the larger African American and immigrant African community. These Masonic Cancer Center, the Sage Program, and Breast Cancer Education Association aligned their goals with Park Nicollet, a nonprofit healthcare provider, to provide mobile mammography services at locations that BCC recommends. Additionally, members of BCEA, Sage, and Masonic Cancer Center developed a culturally relevant education curriculum that supported the training of the community experts [].

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute grant UL1TR002494.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Breast cancer
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Education
  • Geospatial analysis

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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