+INTESTINE Colorectal Cancer Prevention

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Colon cancer is one of the most prevalent and lethal diseases worldwide, affecting people of all ethnic backgrounds. However, there is a concerning disparity in access to prevention and screening for this disease in some communities.

In Portugal, over 11,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, with approximately 4,000 deaths. Unfortunately, this is a silent disease that takes about six to eight years to progress, and its symptoms are still unrecognized by the population!

It is in this context that the ‘+INTESTINE’ program emerges, a public health initiative organized by Europacolon Portugal, with the support of Global Healthcare Projects and Synlab, aimed at combating inequality in access to colon cancer screening by directing its efforts towards the Afro-descendant community in Portugal.

The target population for this initiative is between 50 and 74 years old, as the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer increases with age, with 90% of diagnoses occurring above the age of 50.

One of the main barriers to colon cancer prevention is limited access to screening programs. Often, minority communities face specific challenges such as lack of information, language barriers, lack of access to their family doctor, and transportation difficulties.

The +INTESTINE initiative sought to eliminate these barriers by bringing screening directly to the Afro-descendant community through a Mobile Health Unit that circulated in various parishes and neighborhoods of the Municipality of Amadora.

During the initiative, screening services such as early detection tests through Fecal Occult Blood Tests (FOBT) and information sessions on the importance of intestinal health were offered.

These efforts aimed not only to identify cases of colon cancer in early stages but also to empower the community with crucial information about prevention and the adoption of healthy habits.

The Numbers:

We managed to involve over 1,000 people in this screening, capturing their attention and raising awareness about a disease that is a global scourge. 653 people underwent testing, achieving an adherence rate of 75.4%, which is a very high number never before achieved in Portugal or even in European countries where population-based screening has been in place for about 6 years (such as the Netherlands and Belgium).

It is important to know that:

  • The risk of the disease increases from the age of 50
  • Obesity, alcohol consumption, and smoking are significant risk factors
  • Understanding family history is essential
  • A diet high in fat, fried foods, sugar, red and processed meats increases the likelihood of developing colon cancer


+INTESTINE broke the silence surrounding colon cancer and also promoted a cultural change in health approach, encouraging the community to become more active in promoting well-being and seeking preventive healthcare.

Support Line: 808 200 199*

Support Line for Informal Caregivers: 960 199 759*
(Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 12 pm and from 3 pm to 6 pm)
(*cost of call to the national landline network)

Vítor Neves,
President of Europacolon Portugal