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First report on ethnicity and cancer published

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The National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) and Cancer Research UK has today (Thursday) published the first report on cancer incidence and ethnicity.

According to the report, black people were nearly twice as likely as white people to get stomach cancer.

And black men were up to three times more likely than white men to get prostate cancer.

The report will help to shape policy on targeting relevant public health messages to the ethnic communities around the signs and symptoms of cancer.

It taps into sets of data from NHS Trusts and cancer registries that have never been linked up nationally – bringing together information that will be crucial for healthcare commissioners deciding how best to spend their budget in areas with large ethnic groups.

The report is the first national analysis of cancer incidence in ethnic groups and looked at all cases of cancer diagnosed in England between 2002 and 2006.

Professor David Forman, information lead for the NCIN, said: “While the white population is at a higher risk overall from cancer, this report highlights the increased risk of certain cancers, like stomach and prostate cancer, in the black population.

“We don’t know why these differences exist. The reasons could mainly be genetic, but we think that lifestyle factors could have a role to play.

“We now need more research to understand why these differences exist and to begin to tackle these inequalities.”

The report – presented at the NCIN annual conference in Birmingham today – also found that black people were nearly three times more likely to get myeloma – a bone marrow cancer.

And Asian women could be up to 80 per cent more likely than white women to get mouth cancer.

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: “This report is a hugely important step forward in understanding how such a complex disease affects people from different ethnic groups.

“The next step is to think about how we can target health messages appropriately – making sure different communities are aware of the signs and symptoms of the cancers that are more likely to affect them.”

Professor Mike Richards, national cancer director, said: “The NCIN was formed to help improve cancer services through good quality data.

“This report is a very significant move towards this aim. Based on what it shows, we will be able to measure the effect of any policies we now target to ethnic minority communities.”


For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.