More Hispanic Texans die from cancer than any other cause

Sept. 30, 2013 at 9:36 PM
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GALVESTON, Texas, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- More Hispanic Texans die from cancer than any other cause and only 3 percent of Hispanic Texans are age 75 and older, researchers say.

The report, published in a special issue of the Texas Public Health Journal, found cancer was the leading cause of death among Hispanic Texans age 76 and younger, but survival after a diagnosis of cancer is superior for Hispanics compared to non-Hispanic whites.

Principal investigator Dr. James S. Goodwin of University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and co-principal investigator Dr. Linda S. Elting of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said even though cancers tend to be more advanced when diagnosed in Hispanics, death rates were lower than in the white population.

This phenomenon, known as the "Hispanic Paradox," was noted before by other researchers looking at disease and survival rates. Hispanic Americans tend to survive illness and live longer than white Americans with the same diseases even though the Hispanics have less education, income and access to healthcare, the researchers said. Foreign-born Hispanics had lower mortality rates than those born in the United States, the study found.

The study also found Hispanic Texans were less likely to be screened for breast or colon cancer, but they have lower rates of new cancer diagnoses for breast, colon and lung cancer.

Of the cancers diagnosed in Hispanics, fewer were in the earliest, most treatable stages -- typically detected via screening. Cancers more common among Hispanics were stomach and liver cancer in men and stomach, liver and cervical cancer in women. Such cancers can arise from untreated infections, the researchers said.

About a quarter of the population of Texas has no access to healthcare.

The report was based on 10 years of data on new cancer cases and 21 years of data about cancer deaths.

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