Background: There has been a perception that California Hispanic children have an unusually high cancer incidence rate, but to the authors' knowledge the only information regarding cancer rates in this population has been the tabular data published in reports issued by the California Department of Health Services. The California Cancer Registry has collected data regarding all cancers diagnosed in California since 1988.
Methods: Data regarding all invasive cancers diagnosed in California Hispanic children age <15 years during the 7-year period 1988-1994 were analyzed. Cancers were grouped according to the International Classification for Childhood Cancers. Age-adjusted and age specific incidence rates were compared with the corresponding incidence rates among non-Hispanic white children.
Results: Based on available demographic information, the overall incidence rate of cancer was approximately 7% lower among California children classified as Hispanic than among non-Hispanic white children. Hispanic children had higher incidence rates of lymphoid leukemia and gonadal germ cell tumors and a lower incidence rate of astrocytomas and carcinomas than non-Hispanic white children.
Conclusions: These data do not confirm the perception that California Hispanic children have an unusually high cancer incidence rate but there were notable differences between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white children with regard to the incidence rates of certain cancers. The perception may be due in part to the fact that childhood malignancies represented 3.1% of all cancers diagnosed among Hispanics but only 0.5% of all cancers diagnosed among non-Hispanic whites. This is explained by the lower incidence rate of cancer among California Hispanic adults than among non-Hispanic white adults and the difference in the age distribution of the two populations.
Copyright 1999 American Cancer Society.