Many studies demonstrate that cancer incidence and mortality patterns among Asian Americans are heterogeneous, but national statistics on cancer for Asian ethnic groups are not routinely available. This article summarizes data on cancer incidence, mortality, risk factors, and screening for 5 of the largest Asian American ethnic groups in California. California has the largest Asian American population of any state and makes special efforts to collect health information for ethnic minority populations. We restricted our analysis to the 4 most common cancers (prostate, breast, lung, colon/rectum) and for the 3 sites known to be more common in Asian Americans (stomach, liver, cervix). Cancer incidence and mortality were summarized for 5 Asian American ethnic groups in California in order of population size (Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese). Chinese Americans had among the lowest incidence and death rate from all cancer combined; however, Chinese women had the highest lung cancer death rate. Filipinos had the highest incidence and death rate from prostate cancer and the highest death rate from female breast cancer. Vietnamese had among the highest incidence and death rates from liver, lung, and cervical cancer. Korean men and women had by far the highest incidence and mortality rates from stomach cancer. Japanese experienced the highest incidence and death rates from colorectal cancer and among the highest death rates from breast and prostate cancer. Variations in cancer risk factors were also observed and were for the most part consistent with variations in cancer incidence and mortality. Differences in cancer burden among Asian American ethnic groups should be considered in the clinical setting and in cancer control planning.
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