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New ACS Report Offers Detailed Portrait of Cancer Among Hispanics

Article date: September 15, 2009

By Rebecca Viksnins Snowden

Hispanic Americans are less likely to die from cancer than other groups, but have higher rates of cancers related to infections (stomach, liver, and cervix) and are more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease when treatment may be more difficult, according to Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics 2009-2011, the latest edition of this American Cancer Society report.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death among Hispanics, responsible for 20% of overall deaths and 13% of deaths in children. However, for all cancers combined, cancer incidence and death rates are lower among Hispanics than among non-Hispanic whites. Incidence rates among Hispanic men declined an average of 1.3% per year from 1997 to 2006, compared to 0.8% per year among non-Hispanic men. Cancer death rates declined an average of 2.2% per year among Hispanic men and 1.2% per year among Hispanic women over the same period, compared to declines of 1.5% in men and 0.9% in women among non-Hispanic whites.

According to the report, the most common cancers among Hispanic men in 2009 are projected to be prostate (24%), colorectal (12%), and lung (10%). Among Hispanic women, the most common are breast (28%), colorectal (10%), and lung (7%). These cancers occur at lower rates in Hispanics than in non-Hispanic whites.



Read the report.

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However, Hispanics have higher rates for certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, cervix, liver, and gallbladder, as well as acute lymphocytic leukemia. For example, stomach cancer incidence rates among Hispanic Americans are at least 70% higher than in non-Hispanic whites, possibly due to chronic infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), one of the strongest risk factors for the disease.

For many cancer types, Hispanics are far more likely than whites to be diagnosed in advanced stages of disease, when the cancer is likely to be less treatable. However, cancer survival rates are generally similar to non-Hispanic whites, except for melanoma, for which survival rates are lower compared to non-Hispanic white men (79% versus 87%) and women (88% versus 92%). That difference may reflect a later stage at diagnosis, among other things.

The researchers note these findings may mask important differences between Hispanic subpopulations. Because data in the US are reported for Hispanics as an aggregate group, it's difficult to draw out information for different subgroups – Mexicans as compared to Puerto Ricans, for example.

The report highlights the need for programs that target Hispanics, from addressing disparities in income, education, and access to health care to better understanding cultural values and beliefs.

"The Hispanic/Latino population will benefit from the same approaches that are most important in reducing cancer risk in the general population – preventing and treating tobacco dependence, increasing access to immunization programs, high quality cancer screening and appropriate follow-up care, increasing physical activity, and maintaining a healthy body weight,” said Vilma Cokkinides, Ph.D., American Cancer Society director for risk factor surveillance and one of the authors of this report. "In addition, many Hispanics face barriers to receiving adequate, affordable health care that likely have a significant impact on prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer."

The report is available at www.cancer.org/statistics.


Citation: Cancer Facts and Figures for Hispanics 2009-2011, American Cancer Society, 2009.


Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff

ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.

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