Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Liver Cancer Incidence in California

Key Points

  • The highest age-adjusted HCC incidence rates were among Asian/Pacific Islander residents.
  • Southeast Asians had incidence rates higher than other Asian subgroups.

In a study among California residents reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Pham et al found that those designated as Asian/Pacific Islanders were at elevated risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) vs other racial/ethnic groups, with the highest risk observed among Southeast Asians.

The study involved data on 41,929 cases of invasive HCC diagnosed between 1988 and 2012 from the population-based California Cancer Registry.

Incidence and Change Over Time

Age-adjusted incidence rates per 100,000 population were highest among Asian/Pacific Islanders for both males and females (20.6 and 6.7), followed by Hispanics (12.9 and 4.2), blacks (11.9 and 3.3), and whites (5.7 and 1.5); southeast Asians, consisting of Vietnamese (47.3 and 14.4), Laotian (45.6 and 12.3), and Cambodian residents (42.8 and 11.7), had an HCC risk 8 to 9 times greater than that among whites and greater than twice that among other ethnic Asian groups.

Analysis of average annual percent change in HCC incidence between 1988 and 2012 showed significant (P < .05) increases for all aggregated racial/ethnic populations and some Asian subgroups for both males and females, including +5.3% and +3.8% in whites, +4.6% and +3.5% in blacks, +4.7% and +4.0% in Hispanics, and +0.5% and +0.8% in Asian/Pacific Islanders. Average annual percent changes declined significantly in Chinese males (–1.3%) and rose significantly in Filipino males (+1.2%), Japanese males (+3.0%), Vietnamese females (+4.5%), and Laotian females (+3.4%).

The investigators concluded, “Our findings provide valuable information for the identification of at-risk ethnic subgroups of Asian Americans while underscoring the importance of disaggregating ethnic populations in cancer research.”

The study was supported by the California Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Program of Cancer Registries, and National Cancer Institute.

Lihua Liu, PhD, of Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, is the corresponding author for the Journal of the National Cancer Institute article.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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