Originally published in Asian Sun Summer 2019 Issue
Did you know that cancer is a leading cause of death among Asian Americans? Asian Americans and Pacific Highlanders are the only populations in the US who experience more deaths resulting from cancer than from heart disease. And as this population continues to grow in the US, it’s more important than ever to be aware of your risks and take the proper precautions.
Although there is a common thread of cancer among the various Asian American ethnic groups, the types of occurrences can differ vastly. According to an article published by CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, this is due to significant differences in exposure to cancer risk factors.
Some groups with more recent immigration histories, such as Vietnamese and Korean, have a higher rate of cancers that are not as common in Western countries, such as stomach and liver. Other groups with older immigration histories such as Filipinos and Japanese have seen a greater occurrence of cancers that are more common in the United States, such as colorectal and breast.
The Correlation Between Screening and Diagnosis
Early detection can help make treatment much easier. However, data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) concludes many patients, most notably, more recent immigrants with limited English proficiency are not getting screened regularly.
Your provider is obligated to address and resolve language and cultural challenges by using tools such as the Asian and Pacific Islander Cancer Education web portal provided by the American Cancer Society to communicate messages to their Asian language-speaking patients about cancer prevention and early detection.
Your physician also should be aware of cancers that are more prominent in patients of Asian descent and can recommend the proper precautions. For example, screenings for stomach cancer are not routine in the United States. However, screenings in Japan have been effective in reducing stomach cancer mortality. Cervical cancer screenings and HPV vaccinations should be encouraged.
As the Asian American community continues to grow, it’s more important than ever to keep it a healthy one. Cancer screening increases the chances of detecting certain cancers early, when they might be easier to treat. Take that first the step toward prevention and contact your doctor.
Data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)
Article CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians