Skip to main content

How Barbershops Will Play a Role in Reducing Colorectal Cancer Disparities among African-American Men

Charles Rogers, PhD portrait
Charles R. Rogers, PhD, MPH, MS, CHES®

SALT LAKE CITY – African-American men are more likely to die from colon cancer than any other racial group. That fact led a researcher at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) to begin a long-term project to understand why.

Charles R. Rogers, PhD, MPH, MS, CHES®, HCI researcher and assistant professor of family and preventive medicine at the U of U, began looking into this disparity years ago. "When I started my work in 2011, African-American men had a 20 percent higher chance of getting colon cancer than white men and a 45 percent higher chance of dying from it. Fast forward to 2019 and those numbers have increased to 24 percent and 47 percent."

Rogers was recently awarded a grant that totals nearly $900,000 from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). He will use community-based approaches over the next five years to develop, implement, and evaluate culture-specific interventions with the goal of eliminating cancer disparities among African-American men. His plan specifically targets masculinity barriers to colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. "Screening may challenge some cultural role expectations for African-American men, who have the tendency to delay getting medical care for themselves," said Rogers.

One key venue will aid Rogers in accomplishing his goal: barbershops. "Barbershops are historically known as culturally appropriate and trusted venues in African-American communities," said Rogers. "You’ve got guys in there from toddlers to senior citizens. The barbershop provides a pathway to reach the men my study is targeting. These are men who, because of issues including masculinity barriers, are not getting regular healthcare and screenings."

The study, called Cutting CRC, will take place in Utah and Minnesota. It will happen in three phases: The first is connecting with community partners to recruit African-American men ages 45-75 to participate in focus groups. The second phase puts the study in the field where participants will take a survey on a smartphone device in local barbershops. (Statistically, African-Americans outpace all other racial/ethnic groups in smartphone use.) The third phase of the study involves development, implementation, and evaluation of interventions.

Rogers hopes this study will advance understanding to improve CRC screening completion rates in African-American men, and extend to screening for other cancers where mortality rates are high for African-American men such as prostate cancer. Find additional study details at

The NCI grant Rogers received is awarded to promising early-career faculty. The grant supports career enhancement of junior faculty through an intensive, supervised research project. Kolawole S. Okuyemi, MD, MPH, HCI senior director of diversity and inclusion and professor and chair of family and preventive medicine at the U of U, serves as Rogers’ primary mentor on this project. Rogers received his PhD in health education from Texas A&M University. He joined HCI in summer 2018 from the University of Minnesota, where he earned a master’s of public health and advanced his community-based research of racial disparities in cancer screening among men.

This research is supported by NCI, including K01CA234319 and P30 CA042014; Huntsman Cancer Foundation, and the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the U of U.

Media Contact

Heather Simonsen
Public Relations
Huntsman Cancer Institute
Email Us
801 581-3194

About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah (the U) is the National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center for Utah, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming. With a legacy of innovative cancer research, groundbreaking discoveries, and world-class patient care, we are transforming the way cancer is understood, prevented, diagnosed, treated, and survived. Huntsman Cancer Institute focuses on delivering a cancer-free frontier to all communities in the area we serve. We have more than 300 open clinical trials and 250 research teams studying cancer at any given time. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at Huntsman Cancer Institute than at any other cancer center. Our scientists are world-renowned for understanding how cancer begins and using that knowledge to develop innovative approaches to treat each patient’s unique disease. Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.

Resources for Media

Cancer touches all of us.