Variation in breast cancer occurrence among women in New Mexico’s three major ethnic groups has not previously been assessed. To address the descriptive epidemiology of breast cancer in New Mexico Hispanics, American Indians, and non-Hispanic whites, we calculated incidence rates from population-based registry data covering 1969–1987 and mortality data collected from 1958 to 1987. Breast cancer incidence and mortality rates for New Mexico’s non-Hispanic white women were comparable to those for white women nationwide. In contrast, American Indian women had extremely low incidence and mortality rates for breast cancer; rates for Hispanics were intermediate, but well below those for non-Hispanic white women throughout the study period. Pronounced temporal trends in breast cancer occurrence were evident among Hispanic women, with the incidence rate increasing by 56% over the 19 years of available data and the mortality rate increasing by nearly 100% over 30 years. Age-specific incidence and mortality rates increased at all ages for successive birth cohorts of Hispanic women. For non-Hispanic whites, increasing incidence and mortality rates were also observed, but the increments were much smaller, approximatety 15% for incidence and 30% for mortality. Our data show substantial ethnie differences in breast cancer incidence and mortality in New Mexico, suggesting the need for aetiological investigations to assist in controlling this disease.
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