1.3 Million Pieces of Data: Los Angeles Cancer Diagnoses over the Past 37 Years

Rebecca Moragne, TuftScope Research-Highlights Editor

The University of Southern California recently released 37 years of data that contained 1.3 million diagnosed cancer cases in the Los Angeles area. The area of Los Angeles provided significant data because it comprises 9% of the country’s Latinos and Asian Americans. The data highlights the differing cancer rates among separate races and sexes to increase knowledge that cancer can be both related to genetics and environment and behavior. Dennis Deapen, the report’s senior author and a professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California stated, “Not only are we telling people what has happened to others in the past, but we are also helping them understand their own future cancer risk…The majority of cancer in Los Angeles is preventable: You can reduce the risk yourself.” As shown in the graph below, race and sex play a factor in risk for cancer. Black men endure over 600 cancer cases per 100,000 people compared to Vietnamese men who suffer around 350 cases. And in every race shown, except Vietnamese, men bear a greater cancer rate than women.

Black men bear the highest rate of cancer and on average are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer than Asian American men. Black men retain the highest risk of larynx, prostate, pancreas, kidney, esophagus, and multiple myeloma cancer. While most cancer rates for men are either declining or remaining unchanged, melanoma is increasing, especially among white men. The two most common cancers for men are prostate and lung cancer. For women, the two most common cancers are breast and colorectal cancer. While breast cancer rates in women are declining or remaining unchanged, the rate is increasing in Korean women. These differences among race underscore the effect of environment and lifestyle. The rate of breast cancer in Asian American women in Los Angeles is higher than Asian women in Asia. This difference is due to the western lifestyle (eg. higher rates of obesity due to fatty diet and sedentary behavior). The rate of stomach and liver cancer in Los Angeles is lower than that in Asia because of the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria, and hepatitis B, a liver infection, is lower in the United States. Both types of infection are risk factors for liver and stomach cancers. Lihua Liu, lead author and an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California stated, “The message for immigrant populations is very clear…when they come to this country, their lifestyle changes affect their cancer risk.” This report is the third one focusing on cancer in Los Angeles since 2003. And when comparing all three, there is a decline in the rate of deaths due to cancer. Deapen hopes that this reduction shows that people are learning that they hold the ability to affect their cancer risk and how to do so. 

University of Southern California. (2016, August 15). Cancer in context: 37 years of painstakingly collected data: Latest cancer report card charts trends using data from 1.3 million diagnosed cases in Los Angeles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160815094511.htm