Asian Americans are the nation's fastest growing racial group in terms of percentages, and they constitute a very heterogeneous population. The author reviewed the literature and proposed an agenda to reduce cancer health disparities based on this review and the accomplishments and aspirations of the National Cancer Institute-funded Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research, and Training. The Asian American cancer burden is unique, unusual, and, to a certain extent, unnecessary. The Asian American cancer burden is unique, because Asians are the only racial/ethnic population to experience cancer as the leading cause of death. The unusual aspects of the cancer burden among Asian Americans include experiencing proportionally more cancers of infectious origin, such as human papillomavirus-induced cervical cancer, hepatitis B virus-induced liver cancer, and stomach cancer, than any other racial/ethnic population and, at the same time, experiencing an increasing numbers of cancers associated with "Westernization." To a certain extent, the cancer burden for Asian Americans is unnecessary if barriers to cancer screening, overcoming resistance to physician visits, and culturally competent interventions to reduce smoking, unhealthy diet, and increasing proper exercise can be instituted. Reducing cancer health disparities among Asian Americans will involve research into their unique, unusual, and unnecessary cancer burden.
Cancer 2005. (c) 2005 American Cancer Society.