By Michelina Cairo, M.D., and Henry Mok, M.D.
to 2010 census, Hispanics are now the majority minority in Texas, making up 38
percent of the total population. With so many Latinos in the state, it’s
important to be aware of potential cancer risks for this group and what they
can do to minimize those risks.
The American Cancer Society estimated
47,900 new cancer diagnoses in Hispanic men and 51,000 in Hispanic women in
2009. Hispanics’ most commonly diagnosed cancers are prostate cancer for men
and breast cancer for women. Other common cancers among Latinos include
colorectal and lung. Hispanics have a higher rate of liver and cervical cancer
than most other groups.
While many factors can contribute to a
cancer diagnosis, Hispanics can do several things to increase their chances of
living a long, healthy life.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Obesity is associated with an increased
risk of several cancers, including breast, prostate, and colon. In addition to
regular exercise, Hispanics can maintain a healthy body weight through a diet
with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while limiting intake of
red meat, high-fat foods, and alcohol.
Like all smokers, Hispanic smokers can
reduce their risk of lung cancer and other smoking related diseases by
quitting. Family members can help loved ones quit by participating in fun
activities with them to keep them busy and distracted, as well as keeping them
accountable and providing encouragement.
Get Regular Screenings and Recommended Vaccines
Low screening participation rates make
Hispanics more likely to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage of the disease
when fewer treatment options are available, resulting in poorer outcomes.
Screening exams help diagnose cancer at the early stages, when treatment will
be the most effective.
Texas Oncology recommends regular clinical
screening and/or self-exams for breast, prostate, colorectal, skin, and
testicular cancer. With a higher rate of cervical cancer than many other
groups, Hispanic women should get regular Pap tests.
Both women and men should consider getting
the HPV vaccine because it can help prevent some forms of cancer such as
cervical and head and neck.
Protect Yourself from the Sun
It’s a myth that skin cancer only affects
Caucasian men and women and those with lighter skin. Everyone is at risk for
skin cancer, and it’s important to practice sun safety outdoors. Both children
and adults should choose a sunscreen that provides protection from both UV and
UVB rays and wear a hat with wide brim and sunglasses with at least 99 percent
UV absorption. By next summer, sunscreen labels must note whether product
provides both UVA and UVB protection.
Find the Right Physician
In the Hispanic culture, mutual respect
and trust are necessary elements in a successful patient-phsician relationship.
No matter what the personal risk factors are, finding the right doctor to
manage ongoing health is important. Individuals should choose a physician they
are comfortable with, who listens to their health concerns, and will help guide
their overall well-being.