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Cancer Overtakes Heart Disease as Top Cause of Death Among U.S. Hispanics
Date:9/17/2012

cancer and cervical cancer, Siegel said, which is a reflection of greater exposure to cancer-causing infectious agents, lower screening rates and possibly genetic factors. Specifically, incidence and death rates for cervical cancer are 50 percent to 70 percent higher among Hispanic women than non-Hispanic whites. For most cancer sites, Hispanics are diagnosed at an advanced stage of disease more often than non-Hispanic whites, the report found.

Enter access-to-care issues.

"[Hispanics] are disproportionately poor and uninsured," Siegel said. "Fully 31 percent of U.S. Hispanics are uninsured compared to 12 percent of non-Hispanic whites." As such, Hispanics are also less likely to undergo screening for cervical cancer, which prevents this type of cancer, but also detects it earlier when it is in its most treatable stages, she noted.

Hispanics have lower incidence and death rates than non-Hispanic whites for all cancers combined and for breast, prostate, colorectal, and lung and bronchus cancer -- the four most common cancers -- the report showed.

In particular, lung cancer rates among Hispanics are about one-half those of non-Hispanic whites. This is likely due to the fact that some Hispanics may be less likely to smoke cigarettes than non-Hispanic whites.

There are also differences across Hispanic populations, Siegel said. For example, "Cubans are more likely to smoke and that is important in terms of many types of cancer," she said. "Obesity is a concern among Mexicans, and has been associated with several types of cancer including breast, colon and endometrial. We need tailored interventions at the community level that are focused on specific Hispanic subpopulations."

Don't discount the effect of genetics, said Dr. Kimlin Ashing-Giwa, director of the Center of Community Alliance for Research and Education at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif.

In addition, "many Hispanics work in the service or farming
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