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Hispanics Have Unique Cancer 'Profile'

Their risks, treatment needs differ from those of whites, experts say

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 13, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Hispanic Americans have a unique cancer risk profile that requires a targeted approach to cancer prevention, according to an American Cancer Society report released Wednesday.

The report, titled Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics/Latinos 2006-2008, notes that Hispanic Americans are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to develop and die from the four most common cancers (female breast, prostate, colorectal and lung), but have higher rates of some other kinds of cancer and are more likely to have cancer detected at a later stage than whites.

The report said that, compared to non-Hispanic whites, Hispanic Americans:

  • have higher rates of several cancers related to infectious agents, including cancers of the stomach, liver, and cervix, as well as gallbladder, and acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL);
  • are less likely to be screened for female breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate cancers;
  • are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage for cancers of the lung, colon and rectum, prostate, female breast, and skin;
  • have lower survival rates for most cancers, even after accounting for differences in age and stage at diagnosis;
  • have a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity, factors increasingly associated with cancer risk;
  • have lower rates of adult smoking.

About 39,400 new cancer cases in men and 42,140 cases in women are expected to be diagnosed among Hispanic Americans in 2006, the report said. It's expected that prostate cancer will be the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Hispanic men, while breast cancer will be most common in women.

Colon and rectum cancers are projected to be the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in both Hispanic women and men, followed by lung cancer.

As a group, Hispanic Americans "have different cancer risks and rates than other ethnic groups and require attention to different cancer control and prevention strategies. This report provides guidance to community health advocates and other groups on cancer control priorities among Hispanics," Vilma Cokkinides, director of risk surveillance for the American Cancer Society, said in a prepared statement.

"The approaches that are most important in the general population -- preventing and treating tobacco dependence, increasing access to high quality cancer screening and appropriate follow-up care, increasing physical activity, maintaining a health body weight, etc. -- are also important for Hispanics," Dr. Michael J. Thun, vice president, epidemiological and surveillance research for the American Cancer Society, said in a prepared statement.

"In addition, several other approaches are particularly important for this group: maintaining the frequency of Pap testing, vaccination for hepatitis B, removing barriers that interfere with access to high quality screening and medical care, and forming partnerships to deliver health messages more effectively," Thun said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about Hispanic American health.

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, Sept. 13, 2006
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