Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) are the fastest growing minority in the United States. Cancer is the leading cause of death for AANHPIs, despite relatively lower cancer morbidity and mortality. Their recent demographic growth facilitates a detailed identification of AANHPI populations with higher cancer risk.
Age-adjusted, sex-stratified, site-specific cancer mortality rates from California for 2012 to 2017 were computed for AANHPI groups: Chinese, Filipino, South Asian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Southeast Asian (i.e., Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, Thai), and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (NHOPI). Regression-derived mortality rate ratios (MRR) were used to compare each AANHPI group to non-Hispanic whites (NHW).
AANHPI men and women (total 40,740 deaths) had lower all-sites-combined cancer mortality rates (128.3 and 92.4 per 100,000, respectively) than NHWs (185.3 and 140.6) but higher mortality for nasopharynx, stomach, and liver cancers. Among AANHPIs, both NHOPIs and Southeast Asians had the highest overall rates including for colorectal, lung (men only), and cervical cancers; South Asians had the lowest. NHOPI women had 41% higher overall mortality than NHWs (MRR = 1.41; 95% CI, 1.25–1.58), including for breast (MRR = 1.33; 95% CI, 1.08–1.65) and markedly higher for endometrial cancer (MRR = 3.34; 95% CI, 2.53–4.42).
AANHPI populations present with considerable heterogeneous cancer mortality patterns. Heightened mortality for infection, obesity, and tobacco-related cancers in Southeast Asians and NHOPI populations highlight the need for differentiated priorities and public health interventions among specific AANHPI populations.
Not all AANHPIs have favorable cancer profiles. It is imperative to expand the focus on the currently understudied populations that bear a disproportionate cancer burden.