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1 disease, not 1 demographic
Date:10/29/2009

The Asian continent has nearly four billion people living in 47 different countries, and each of these groups has their own unique set of health issues. But when they come to the United States, they're often lumped into one large demographic: "Asian/Pacific Islander."

Health researchers say this makes it difficult to learn about each group's specific needs, particularly in regard to cancer, one of the leading killers of Asian-Americans.

"There is an assumption that Asians are at low risk for developing cancers due to the inclusion of more than 60 Asian nationalities into one category," said Grace X. Ma, a professor of public health in the College of Health Professions and Social Work. "It ultimately masks the significant cultural and health differences between these groups."

In a study published this month in the American Journal of Health Behavior, Ma breaks down the attitudes and rates related to cancer screenings among the four largest groups of Asian-Americans: Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Cambodian.

These groups are also at higher risk for various types of cancer:

  • Cervical cancer is four times higher among Vietnamese-American women;
  • Heptatitis B (HBV), known to cause liver cancer, is six times higher among Chinese-American men;
  • Between 7-14 percent of Vietnamese-American men are chronically infected with HBV; and
  • Korean-American men have a higher incidence of stomach and prostate cancers.

While life-saving in many instances, cancer screenings have been shown to be relatively low across the "Asian/Pacific Islander" category, but there has yet to be a detailed comparison of rates across subgroups until Ma's study due in large part to small sample sizes, as well as the fact that most national surveys on cancer tend to be in English.

"Almost 70 percent of Asian-Americans are foreign born, so surveys that are English-only are not reaching the heart of the communi
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Contact: Renee Cree
rencree@temple.edu
215-707-1583
Temple University
Source:Eurekalert

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