Objectives: We report cancer incidence, mortality, and stage distributions among Asians and Pacific Islanders (API) residing in the U.S. and note health disparities, using the cancer experience of the non-Hispanic white population as the referent group. New databases added to publicly available SEER*Stat software will enable public health researchers to further investigate cancer patterns among API groups.
Methods: Cancer diagnoses among API groups occurring from 1 January 1998 to 31 December 2002 were included from 14 Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program state and regional population-based cancer registries covering 54% of the U.S. API population. Cancer deaths were included from the seven states that report death information for detailed API groups and which cover over 68% of the total U.S. API population. Using detailed racial/ethnic population data from the 2000 decennial census, we produced incidence rates centered on the census year for Asian Indians/Pakistanis, Chinese, Filipinos, Guamanians, Native Hawaiians, Japanese, Kampucheans, Koreans, Laotians, Samoans, Tongans, and Vietnamese. State vital records offices do not report API deaths separately for Kampucheans, Laotians, Pakistanis, and Tongans, so mortality rates were analyzed only for the remaining API groups.
Results: Overall cancer incidence rates for the API groups tended be lower than overall rates for non-Hispanic whites, with the exception of Native Hawaiian women (All cancers rate = 488.5 per 100,000 vs. 448.5 for non-Hispanic white women). Among the API groups, overall cancer incidence and death rates were highest for Native Hawaiian and Samoan men and women due to high rates for cancers of the prostate, lung, and colorectum among Native Hawaiian men; cancers of the prostate, lung, liver, and stomach among Samoan men; and cancers of the breast and lung among Native Hawaiian and Samoan women. Incidence and death rates for cancers of the liver, stomach, and nasopharynx were notably high in several of the API groups and exceeded rates generally seen for non-Hispanic white men and women. Incidence rates were lowest among Asian Indian/Pakistani and Guamanian men and women and Kampuchean women. Asian Indian and Guamanian men and women also had the lowest cancer death rates. Selected API groups had less favorable distributions of stage at diagnosis for certain cancers than non-Hispanic whites.
Conclusions: Possible disparities in cancer incidence or mortality between specific API groups in our study and non-Hispanic whites (referent group) were identified for several cancers. Unfavorable patterns of stage at diagnosis for cancers of the colon and rectum, breast, cervix uteri, and prostate suggest a need for cancer control interventions in selected groups. The observed variation in cancer patterns among API groups indicates the importance of monitoring these groups separately, as these patterns may provide etiologic clues that could be investigated by analytic epidemiological studies.