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Reviewing Colorectal Cancer Incidence Trends Among Asian Subgroups

California Cancer Registry

In 2010, the California Cancer Registry (CCR) released a special topic report, Colorectal Cancer in Californians, 1988–2007, that reviewed colorectal cancer incidence trends among racial and ethnic groups in California, including six major Asian subgroups.

Colorectal cancer kills more Californians than any other cancer except lung cancer, even though screening tests can find colorectal cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage, and can find pre-cancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.

The report found that from 1988 to 2007—

  • Colorectal cancer incidence rates declined by an average of 1.6% per year, or 27% overall.
  • Incidence rates declined by 0.9% per year, or 13% overall, among Asians/Pacific Islanders (API) in California.
  • Rates declined significantly among the Chinese and Japanese.
  • Rates did not change significantly among Filipinos, South Asians, and Vietnamese.
  • In stark contrast, Koreans had a dramatic increase in colorectal cancer, with an average annual increase of 2.9%. Data from the California Health Interview Survey show that Koreans are screened for colorectal cancer less often than any other API subgroup.

These results were shared with the California Colorectal Cancer Coalition (C4). C4 was established in 2006 after the California Dialogue for Action summit, which was organized by the California Dialogue on Cancer, California’s CDC-funded comprehensive cancer control program. With diverse representation, C4 is uniquely positioned to present a unified message to state leaders and media about the importance of colorectal cancer prevention and screening. C4 is working on a plan to educate Korean communities in California about colorectal cancer screening.

Aggregated cancer data for API hide important differences in the cancer burden among Asian subgroups. Understanding these differences is critical for targeting interventions among these groups. Through our partnerships with C4 and the California Dialogue on Cancer, the CCR is able to provide data that can guide cancer control efforts and inform the most affected communities. Community-based organizations can then work from a grassroots level to educate community members and health care providers in the hopes of improving knowledge and access to screening and proper follow-up care.

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