Based on a comprehensive study that included more than half the Asian American population, scientists from the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) have produced the first ever analysis of national trends in cancer incidence among the eight largest Asian American groups.
The researchers, led by CPIC Research Scientist Scarlett Lin Gomez, Ph.D., examined cancer incidence data from 1990 through 2008 in 10 regions of the country, representing 54 percent of all Asian Americans. The eight groups studied in detail include Asian Indians/Pakistanis, Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Kampucheans (Cambodians), Koreans, Laotians and Vietnamese.
“This study fills a critical gap in our understanding of the cancer experience of Asian American groups,” Gomez said. “Asian Americans represent a diverse population from more than 50 different countries speaking more than 100 languages, and yet despite this, most research and cancer statistics has tended to aggregate these groups, often giving the impression of positive health profiles.”
In general, prostate was the most common type of cancer among men, followed by lung, colorectal, liver and stomach cancer. When looked at individually, however, important differences arise. For instance, lung cancer rates were highest among Kampuchean, Laotian and Vietnamese. Liver cancer continued to increase in Filipino, Kampuchean, and Vietnamese men, in recent years surpassing lung cancer among Kampucheans.
And while breast cancer was the most common form of cancer among women, not all groups experienced the same incidence or trends over this time period. Chinese women, for instance, experienced a greater than one percent increase annually in breast cancer rates throughout the nearly 20 year period. At the same time, Japanese women experienced an even greater annual increase (2.7 percent) between 1990 and 1998, but then a nearly two percent annual decrease after that.
Among men and women, in contrast to national declines in lung and colorectal cancer, the incidence of lung cancer has been increasing among Filipina and Korean women and Asian Indian/Pakistani men, and the incidence of colorectal cancer has been increasing among Kampuchean, Korean, and Laotian men and women.
These data fill a critical knowledge gap concerning the cancer experience of Asian-American groups and highlight where increased preventive, screening, and surveillance efforts are needed.
More detailed information about each of these groups is available from www.cpic.org.