Cancer Now Leading Cause of Death among Hispanics

Cancer has surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death among Hispanics according to the newly released Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics and Latinos. While cancer incidence and death rates have declined among US Hispanics during the time period from 2000 to 2009, barriers to cancer prevention and treatment still pose a challenge, said Angelina Esparza, RN, MPH, director of health equity for the American Cancer Society in a video interview.

“Important barriers to care include poor or limited access to quality and timely care, both for screening and treatment of cancer among Hispanics/Latinos,” said Esparza. “In addition, the health care system may not have the capacity to meet the needs of the growing US Hispanic/Latino population, especially with providing information in Spanish.”

Interventions to reduce tobacco use, obesity and alcohol consumption in the Hispanic/Latino community are necessary in reducing incidence and deaths from cancer. In addition to addressing the barriers Hispanics face, “It is also important to promote healthy lifestyles among Hispanics/Latinos, including access to healthy food and safe neighborhoods that encourage physical activity,” Esparza said.

Other key findings from the report include:

–        In 2012, an estimated 112,800 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed and 33,200 cancer deaths will occur among Hispanics.

–         Hispanics have lower incidence and death rates than non-Hispanic whites for all cancers combined, and for the four most common cancers (breast, prostate, lung and bronchus, and colon).

–        Hispanics have higher incidence and mortality rates for some cancers like stomach, liver, cervical, and gallbladder. Incidence and death rates for cervical cancer are 50% to 70% higher in Hispanic women compared to non-Hispanic whites.

For access to cancer prevention and treatment information and resources for the Hispanic/Latino community, call 1-800-227-2345. The American Cancer Society also provides materials in Spanish at

One of the authors of Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics/Latinos discusses the publication in detail here

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