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Cancer new No. 1 cause of death for Hispanics


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The main killer of Hispanics is now cancer.

A study from an American Cancer Society journal published Monday shows cancer surpassed heart disease in 2009.

The study shows 29,935 Hispanics died from cancer in 2009, 324 more than died from the No. 2 killer — heart disease.

The most recent 10 years of data show cancer incidence rates decreased by 1.7 percent a year for men and .3 percent a year for women and cancer death rates decreased 2.3 percent a year for men and 1.4 percent a year for women.

The death rate for colorectal cancer for female, Cuban Florida residents doubled that of Mexican women. The incidence rates for cervical cancer are 50 percent higher for women of non-Cuban Latino descent.

For Florida, the publication shows the death rate for Cuban adults is twice the rate for Mexican men. Breast cancer incidence rates for Floridian Hispanic women ranged from 26.4 for Mexicans to 82.3 for Puerto Ricans, according to the journal.

Dr. Jose G. Trevino, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Florida Shands Cancer Center, predicts cancer incidence rates will rise again.

He said increased reporting of cancer in Hispanics is more likely than an actual increase in cancer cases.

Trevino, a Mexican immigrant, said Hispanics’ hesitance to get treatment is a major cause of their cancer death rate. His concern is the disparity of Hispanics with cancer seeking treatment.

He said a disparity exists for cancer treatment for Hispanics because they fear the cost of care or time missed from work will decrease the amount of money they can send to relatives abroad. Also, Hispanics in the U.S. illegally fear deportation if they report their illness. The Journal also reports a disparity in treatment for Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites.

“I think it’s a problem,” Trevino said. “I think that it’s something we need to look into for all health disparities for the population of Florida, especially.”

Wade Millward edited this story online.

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