Native Puerto Ricans Are at Increased Risk for Certain Cancers

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Hispanics have a 25% lower cancer incidence rate compared with NHWs, but Puerto Ricans are subject to a higher occurrence of infection‐related cancers.
Hispanics have a 25% lower cancer incidence rate compared with NHWs, but Puerto Ricans are subject to a higher occurrence of infection‐related cancers.

Men living in Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States with a 99% Hispanic population, had higher rates of prostate and colorectal cancer compared with both non-Hispanic whites (NHWs) and Hispanics living in the continental United States, according to the “Cancer Statistics for Hispanic/Latinos, 2018” report, which was published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.1

The report showed that from 2011 to 2015, the prostate cancer incidence rate in Puerto Rico was 146.6 per 100,000, which was 60% higher than the rate in Hispanics (91.6 per 100,000) and 44% higher than the rate for NHWs (101.7 per 100,000) across the continental US. Additionally, men in Puerto Rico had 17% higher colorectal cancer mortality rates from 2011 to 2015 compared with NHWs and 35% higher colorectal cancer mortality rates compared with other US-based Hispanics.

The report is published every 3 years by the American Cancer Society and includes data on cancer occurrence, risk factors, and screening for Hispanics in the United States based on data from the National Cancer Institute, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This was the first report to also include data on individuals in Puerto Rico.

Overall, there will be an estimated 149,100 new cancer cases and 42,700 deaths due to cancer in the Hispanic population across the continental US and Hawaii in 2018. Looking at all cancer types, the report showed that Hispanics have a 25% lower incidence rate and a 30% lower mortality rate compared with NHWs. But, individuals in Puerto Rico are subject to a higher occurrence of infection‐related cancers.

Although lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in each continental state across race (except among women in Utah), breast cancer is the leading cancer cause of death among women in Puerto Rico (18% of cancer deaths during 2011‐2015), and prostate cancer is the leading cancer cause of death among men in Puerto Rico (17% of cancer deaths). These findings on prostate cancer were especially curious, as some previous data suggest that the use of the PSA test is higher in the territory compared with its use in the continental US and Hawaii overall.

Other interesting trends uncovered with the addition of data from Puerto Rico was Puerto Rico's low incidence of lung cancer deaths compared with NHWs and US Hispanics (19.8 per 100,000 vs. 56.3 NHWs and 26.5 in US Hispanics).

Reference

  1. Miller KD, Sauer AG, Ortiz AP, et al. Cancer statistics for Hispanics/Latinos, 2018. CA Cancer J Clin. doi: 10.3322/caac.21494

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