The risk of colon cancer for Hispanics in California varies widely depending on their place of origin, a new study shows.
University of Southern California researchers looked at data from more than 36,000 Hispanics in the state who had been diagnosed with colon cancer between 1995 and 2011. They were further identified by their place of origin: Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central or South America, or not specified.
People from Mexico have a lower risk of colon cancer than Hispanics from other areas, the researchers found. But people from Mexico, Central America or South America were more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer before age 50 than other Hispanics, the study showed.
Cuban colon cancer patients had the highest death rate (63 percent), followed by Puerto Ricans (58 percent). Mexicans had the highest rate of rectal cancer (35 percent) compared to other Hispanic groups, the study said.
The authors of the study said they hope their findings will help lead to improved colon cancer care for Hispanics. The findings were published recently in the journal Cancer Causes & Control.
“Nowadays, most of the information we have on the molecular characteristics of colorectal cancer comes from the white population. There is little information specific to Latinos. Plus, they are typically clumped as a group,” said lead author Mariana Stern, a cancer epidemiologist and associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority ethnic group in the United States, the researchers noted.
“Hispanics are a very heterogeneous population, which is not really recognized in most cancer studies,” Stern said in a university news release.
“Their risk factors might be different; their clinical characteristics could be different. We have to zoom into these observations and understand these disparities because they may affect how patients are educated about the disease and how they are treated by doctors,” she explained.
The differences between Hispanic groups may be due to factors such as genetics and how much they have adopted American lifestyles, the researchers said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about colon cancer.