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Cancer disparities impacting Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders

Cancer disparities impacting Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders

The latest data highlighting the impact of cancer health disparities on Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders provided by the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center’s Hawaiʻi Tumor Registry is included in the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2022 Cancer Disparities Progress Report. The annual publication raises awareness about the enormous toll that cancer places on racial and ethnic minorities, and other medically underserved populations.

The latest data reported includes:

  • Native Hawaiian men had the lowest incidence, but the highest mortality of prostate cancer.
  • Breast cancer incidence and mortality were highest among Native Hawaiian women compared to any other racial or ethnic group.
  • Samoan males were 66% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, but 34% less likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer compared to Native Hawaiian males.
  • Lung cancer incidence was highest among Native Hawaiian men and women, and lung cancer mortality was highest in Native Hawaiian women compared to the other population groups in the state.

The progress report features Lillian (Kehau) Matsumoto, a 78-year-old Native Hawaiian patient advocate, five-time cancer survivor and member of the UH Cancer Center’s Community Advisory Board. “The AACR Report allows me to educate more people, especially Native Hawaiians, about cancer disparities, and hopefully they will seek help early,” Matsumoto said.

The report also highlights areas of recent progress and strategies to reduce cancer health disparities through screening guidelines, increased access to health insurance, tailored interventions through community engagement, and ways of improving communication between patients and physicians, while offering specific recommendations to achieve health equity regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socioeconomic status. These interventions play a critical role in helping to reduce the burden of cancer in Hawaiʻi, the Pacific and beyond.

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