Puerto Rico has the lowest incidence rate of new lung cancer compared with all other races and ethnic groups in the United States, according to a study published last week in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report also shows that Puerto Rico has a lower incidence rate of female breast cancer compared with U.S. non-Hispanic white and black women.
The report presents for the first time invasive cancer incidence rates for 2007–2011 among Puerto Rican residents by sex, age, cancer site, and region using U.S. Cancer Statistics data. Puerto Rico has similar incidence rates to U.S. populations for cancer of the colon and rectum. Cancers of the prostate (152 cases per 100,000 men), female breast (84 cases per 100,000 women), and colon and rectum (43 cases per 100,000 persons) are the most common cancer sites among Puerto Rico residents.
“These data underscore the importance of Puerto Ricans getting proper screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer to identify them early when they are most treatable,” said Guillermo Tortolero-Luna, M.D., Ph.D., director of Cancer Control and Populations Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico and a co-author of the paper.
The differences in reported cancer incidence rates between U.S. and Puerto Rican residents may be partly explained by differences in health behaviors and risk factors associated with cancers. For example, Puerto Rico has lower smoking rates than all American states (with the exception of Utah), which could explain the lower rates of lung cancer.
“We are encouraged to see lower lung cancer incidence rates in Puerto Rico than the rest of the U.S. However, we must remain diligent in our cancer control efforts to continue progress,” said Blythe Ryerson, Ph.D., M.P.H., a lead epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and an author of the paper. “We recommend all smokers quit for good.”