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Different Asian American Groups Face Different Cancer Risks

I live in California, and besides having a Filipino wife, I know lots of people of Asian descent, some born in the US and many born in their native land. That’s why an article today in the New York Times about cancer rates in Asian Americans caught my attention.

The study, which looked at five ethnic groups living in California: Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese, found that people in each ethnic group had very different levels of risks for different types of cancer.

Among Asian American women, Filipinos women had the highest rates of breast cancer, followed by Japanese and Korean American women. Vietnamese women had the highest rate of lung cancer followed by Chinese and Filipinos. Japanese women reported the highest colon cancer rates followed by Chinese and Vietnamese.

Among Asian American men, Filipino men had the highest rate of prostate cancer, followed by Japanese and Chinese males. Filipino American males also reported the highest rate of lung cancer, followed by Vietnamese and Korean males. Japanese males had the highest rate of colon cancer, followed by Korean and Chinese males.

Stomach cancer is a common cancer found in both women and men of Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese ancestry.

The take aways from this posting are:

1). Know your own ethnic, genetic and age/gender-related cancer risks. Do not expect your doctor to know or remember your risk or to screen you routinely for them.

2). None of us should ever assume that our physician is “on top of everything” when it comes to our health. According to the New York Times Article, “some cancers in developing countries are often caused by chronic infections with certain bacteria and viruses that are routinely treated or prevented in the United States.” As a result, physicians in the US may not think to screen for cancers caused by infectious agents.

For a full copy of the study go to http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/cgi/reprint/57/4/190
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