Colorectal Cancer Prevention
Asian Americans have lower rates of colorectal (colon) cancer screening than any other ethnic group. While more than 40% of whites, African Americans and Latinos 50 or older have had a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy within a five-year period, only 28% of Asian Americans in that age group have had the tests. The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age and the average age at diagnosis is 72. Colorectal cancer is one of the three most commonly diagnosed cancers in Asian American males and females and the incidence of this disease is rising in this population. This trend follows a shifting pattern of cancer risk in a migrant population living in a more Westernized culture. Diets high in fat, protein, alcohol, and meat and low in fiber and calcium have been shown to increase the risk of colorectal cancer. These dietary risk factors are more prevalent in the United States and other Westernized countries compared to Asian countries. Although screening using the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, is well established as an effective means of reducing the burden of the disease, studies have shown extremely low screening utilization among Asian Americans.
Breast and Cervical Cancer
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in women (American Cancer Society (ACS 2008) and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Asian and Pacific Islander women in the United States. Since the 1980s breast cancer rates have risen 4.5% each year. In 2008, 226,510 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 40,580 women died of breast cancer (ACS, 2008). All women are at risk for breast cancer and the risk increase as women get older, especially after age 40. Breast affects the Asian subpopulations disproportionately. The rate of breast cancer among some Asian subpopulations is almost double the rate of their Caucasian counter parts leading to higher morbidity and mortality. Moreover, screening rates among the population is also much lower adding to the increased disparity between Asian American women and their Caucasian counterparts.