Cancer mortality among new Mexico's hispanics, american indians, and non-hispanic whites, 1958-1987

Charles L. Wiggins, Thomas M. Becker, Charles R. Key, Jonathan M. Samet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: Racial and ethnic differences in cancer incidence and mortality are well documented. New Mexico's ethnically and racially diverse population provides an opportunity to further examine ethnic and racial differences in cancer occurrence. Purpose: To address differences in cancer mortality among the state's Hispanics, American Indians, and non-Hispanic Whites, we examined mortality data collected from 1958 through 1987. Methods: Sex and age-specific and age-adjusted cancer mortality rates were calculated for all sites and specific sites for American Indians, Hispanics, and non- Hispanic Whites. From 1958 through 1987, deaths due to malignant neoplasms were coded according to the International Classification of Diseases. The categories of malignant neoplasms investigated were chosen, in part, to minimize bias due to changes in disease classification. Ethnicity was assigned by the Bureau of Vital Statistics on the basis of information on death certificates. Denominators were derived from the censuses of 1960, 1970, 1980, and 1990. Age-standardized mortality rates were calculated for 5-year periods (1958-1962, 1963-1967, 1968-1972, 1973-1977, 1978-1982, and 1983-1987), with the 1970 U.S. population as the standard. We also examined age-specific rates by time period. Results: Within each of New Mexico's ethnic groups, overall cancer mortality increased over the 30-year time span, and the cancer mortality rates were greater for males than for females. For most major cancer sites, mortality rates for New Mexico's non-Hispanic Whites were comparable with data for U.S. Whites. American Indians had the lowest rates for most sites, whereas cancer mortality rates for most sites among Hispanics were intermediate between the two other groups. However, Hispanics and American Indians had higher mortality rates for cancers of the gallbladder, cervix, and stomach compared with non-Hispanic Whites throughout most of the study period. Several other cancer sites showed major mortality rate differences among these racial and ethnic groups, including cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, bladder, lung, ovary, and uterus. We also observed strong temporal trends of increasing or decreasing mortality rates for several cancer sites. Conclusions: Race and ethnicity have been strong determinants of cancer mortality in New Mexico. Within the span of one generation, cancer mortality has changed substantially for some cancer sites in each of the population groups studied. Implications: These mortality data underscore the need for appropriately designed etiologic studies of cancer in diverse racial and ethnic groups. Such etiologic studies could provide new insights concerning risk factors for cancer and useful data for developing race- and ethnic-specific cancer control strategies. [J Natl Cancer Inst 85:1670-1678, 1993]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1670-1678
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 20 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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