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Cancer incidence, mortality down for Asian Americans

The incidence of cancer among Asian Americans in California has dropped 5.9 percent and deaths from the disease have dropped 16.3 percent since 1988, according to research reported last fall at the fifth Asian American Cancer Control Academy. The National Cancer Institute and its Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training (AANCART), headquartered at UC Davis, sponsored the meeting.

According to the analysis by the Cancer Surveillance Section of the California Department of Health Services, which examined cancer incidence and mortality from 1988 through 2001, Asian American women remain more likely to die of cancer than of any other cause. And, while they are less likely than women in any other major ethnic group to develop breast cancer, their breast cancer rate is the nation's fastest-growing.

While cancer incidence and mortality fell for Asian Americans as a whole, the good news wasn't shared equally across Asian American communities. Korean Americans saw only a 0.2 percent drop in their cancer incidence during the study period, the lowest for any of the five Asian. subgroups studied — Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. Filipino Americans, alone among the Asian American subgroups, saw a 2.5-percent increase in their death rate from cancer.

"These findings underscore the tremendous heterogeneity among Asian Americans, and the importance of looking at each Asian ethnic group separately," said Moon S. Chen, Jr., professor of public health sciences at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center. Chen is principal investigator for AANCART, an $8.5 million project to reduce cancer in Asian Americans nationwide.

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