Enhanced Cancer Rates
Combining USC Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program information with similar information from other U.S. areas provides a clearer picture of cancers in Latino populations.
by Jon Weiner
When it comes to cancer rates, it is especially good to be Latino. That is the conclusion of a new report by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) describing the burden of cancer in the nations Latino population. Statistics in the report reflect the cancer experience of more than 86 percent of the Latino population in the United States.
The report was designed, prepared and released by the NAACCR together with the USC Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program at the Keck School of Medicine.
For 30 years, it has been a high priority of the USC Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program to provide cancer information for the diverse racial/ethnic population of Los Angeles County. This NAACCR report now combines our information with similar information from other U.S. areas to provide a clearer picture of the cancer burden in America, says Dennis Deapen, Dr.P.H., director of the USC Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program, professor of clinical preventive medicine at the Keck School and NAACCR president.
Overall, the report shows a lower incidence of cancers for Latino populations than other populations in this country. Scientists believe those low rates may be due to the large proportion of recent immigrants in the Latino population. Latino immigrants typically come from countries where cancer rates are lower than in the U.S.
Data from a number of states and major cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, New Jersey and New Mexico are included in the report.
When examining the data, researchers reported these findings:
Latino populations had lower incidence for all cancers combined and for the four leading cancers (breast, prostate, lung and colorectal) than non-Latino populations.
Several specific cancers occurred at higher rates among Latino populations than among non-Latino populations, including cancers of the liver, gallbladder and penis and acute lymphocytic leukemia. Latino rates for cancers of the stomach and cervix were higher than those for non-Latino whites, and Latino rates for cancers of the testes and brain and non-Hodgkins lymphoma were higher than those for non-Latino blacks.
Age-adjusted incidence rates among Latino populations varied widely by geographic area. When adjusted for age, cancer incidence rates for Latinos varied widely across the country. This is likely because Latino immigrants from certain countries have tended to settle in specific regions of the U.S., researchers say.
As with adults, the overall incidence of most cancers in Latino children and adolescents was lower than in non-Latino populations. Some exceptions were leukemias, Hodgkins lymphoma and retinoblastoma (an aggressive cancer of the retina).
Overall rates of cancer among Latinos in Los Angeles are much lower than some other areas in the U.S, says Lihua Liu, Ph.D., an editor of the report and research scientist at the USC Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program and the Keck School. For example, overall cancer incidence among Latinos in Florida is 23 percent higher [than other areas]. We believe that part of the explanation for this is the Latino population in Florida is more likely to have roots in Cuba and Puerto Rico, where lifestyles are different from the Mexican and Central American origin of many Latinos in Los Angeles. We hope that we can use this information to learn how to further reduce the occurrence of cancer among Latinos.
The full report is available on the NAACCR Web site at http://www.naaccr.org.