Cancer Tops Heart Disease As #1 Killer

Cancer is now leading cause of death among Hispanics

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Hispanic/Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. These folks come from Cuba, Central and South America, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Mexico, among other countries. Heart disease used to be the leading cause of death for Latinos, but not anymore.

More Hispanics die of cancer than any other disease.

Experts think new ways to improve cancer awareness, access to care and screening among Latinos is needed.

"Take advantage of community cancer screening programs."

The American Cancer Society published these statistics and trends in Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics/Latinos, 2012-2014.

It shows that Hispanics are less prone to have major cancers, but are at greater risk of other forms of the disease.

Researchers combed through population-based databases to compile this report, which offers fascinating insights regarding how cancer affects people of Hispanic descent:

  • Nearly 113,000 Hispanics will be diagnosed with cancer in 2012.
  • 33,200 Hispanics will die of cancer this year.
  • Over the past decade, cancer cases among Hispanics have declined more than in non-Hispanics. In men, cancer incidence declined 1.7 percent vs. 1 percent for non-Hispanics per year and 0.3 vs. 0.2 percent a year for women.
  • The same trend holds true for cancer deaths, which have declined 2.3 percent per year in men and 1.4 percent per year in women during that same time period. In non-Hispanics, annual declines of 1.5 and 1.3 were seen in men and women, respectively.
  • Hispanics had lower incidence and death rates of the four major cancers (breast, prostate, lung, colorectal) than non-Hispanics.
  • Conversely, Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanics to be diagnosed with and die from stomach, liver, uterine cervix and gallbladder cancers.
  • Hispanic women are far more likely (60 percent) than white women to develop and die of cervical cancer.
  • This group is also more likely than non-Hispanics to be diagnosed with advanced cancers.

The report also looks at trends by country of origin and how culture impacts lifestyle.

"There is substantial heterogeneity within the US Hispanic population,” said Rebecca Siegel, MPH, lead author of the report.

“The most effective strategies for reducing the cancer burden in these underserved communities utilize tailored, culturally appropriate interventions, such as patient navigation, to increase access to medical services."

The report elaborates, "Strategies for reducing cancer risk among Hispanics include increasing utilization of screening and available vaccines, as well as implementing effective interventions to reduce tobacco use, obesity, and alcohol consumption."

The report was published September 17 in CA: A Journal For Cancer Clinicians.

The American Cancer Society funded this study.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 18, 2012
Last Updated:
December 30, 2013