Breast cancer rising among Asian-American women

LOS ANGELES, June 10-Asian-American women have traditionally had a lower risk of breast cancer than others, but epidemiologists at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center have found that their breast cancer rates have been rising.

Cases of breast cancer among Japanese-American women, in particular, have been increasing rapidly, according to research published in the June 10 issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

The study is based on cancer cases reported in the mid-to-late 1990s to the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program (CSP). The registry records cancers throughout Los Angeles County, the most populous and probably most ethnically diverse county in the nation. Breast cancer rates in Los Angeles are similar to rates nationwide.

Researchers found that the breast cancer incidence rates for Japanese and Filipino women were about double those for Chinese and Korean women, and rates rose during the 1993-1997 period for all except Chinese women.

"Although Asian-American women in the past have had low breast cancer rates, that appears to no longer be the case," says Dennis Deapen, professor of preventive medicine and director of the Los Angeles County CSP. "And if trends from the 1990?s have continued, rates among Japanese-American women in Los Angeles County may have surpassed those of non-Hispanic white women, who have historically had the highest rates of breast cancer."

The study indicated the following about breast cancer:

  • Among Asian women 50 years or older, diagnosed cases increased about 6.3 percent a year during the five-year period. Among non-Hispanic white women 50 years or older, diagnosed cases increased about 1.5 percent a year during the same time period.

  • In 1997, Asian-American women experienced 78 cases per 100,000 women. Non-Hispanic whites had about 129 per 100,000, African-Americans had about 98 per 100,000 and Hispanics had about 64 per

Contact: Jon Weiner
University of Southern California

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