Sep 23, 2021 - Health

Report: Latinos have higher rates of preventable cancer

Data: Miller et al., Cancer statistics for the US Hispanic/Latino population, 2021; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

U.S. Latinos are more likely to suffer from potentially preventable cancers than non-Hispanic whites, according to a report released Tuesday.

Why it matters: The report underlines how a lack of health care for Latinos blocks early detection of preventable cancers, such as stomach, liver and cervical cancer. It was published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

  • The report's authors noted in a press release that "the high burden of these cancers in this population could be reduced by increasing access to high-quality prevention, early detection, and treatment services."

The big picture: Latinos as a group have the highest percentage of people without health insurance than any other ethnicity in the U.S., the report found.

  • Between 2017 and 2018, 26% of Latinos were uninsured, compared to 9% of non-Hispanic whites.
  • "Since 2019, job losses and decreases in income resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, which have disproportionately affected people of color, may have contributed to disruptions in health coverage," the Kaiser Family Foundation writes.

Between the lines: Cancer continues to be the leading cause of death among Latinos, followed by heart disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

  • Overall, however, Latinos in the U.S. have lower cancer-incident and mortality rates than non-Hispanic whites.

What they're saying: "Addressing this critical gap for Hispanic individuals in obtaining access to high-quality cancer prevention, early detection and treatment are going to be essential for mitigating the predicted growth in the cancer burden," said Kimberly Miller, a scientist at the American Cancer Society and lead researcher on the report.

By the numbers: One in 42 Latino men will develop liver cancer, compared to 1 in 85 non-Hispanic whites, and while 1 in 64 Latinos will develop stomach cancer compared to 1 in 122 non-Hispanic whites, the report notes. Latinos are also around twice as likely to die from these cancers.

  • Latinas are more than twice as likely to develop liver cancer(1 in 81 compared to 1 in 200 for non-Hispanic white women) or stomach cancer (1 in 89 for Latinas, compared to 1 in 210 for non-Hispanic white women). They are also twice as likely to die from those illnesses.
  • Latinas are 32% more likely than non-Hispanic white women to get cervical cancer (1 in 115 compared to 1 in 180), which is almost entirely preventable through screening and vaccination. In Puerto Rico, Latinas' incidence of cervical cancer is 78% higher than non-Hispanic white women.
  • The report says that between 2009 and 2018 overall cancer incidence rates declined by about 2% per year among Latino men and remained stable among Latinas, but they "have begun to increase in more recent years."

What we're watching: The report estimates that there will be 176,600 new cancer cases and 46,500 cancer deaths in 2021 among Latino communities in the U.S.

  • This is an increase from 2018, when the American Cancer Society predicted 42,700 deaths and 149,100 new cases.

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