Cancer incidence in migrants in Australia: patterns of three infection-related cancers

descriptive epidemiology

What is known?

Australia’s multicultural society and high-quality cancer registrations provide an ideal place to study cancer incidents of the migrant population. There is substantial variation in the incidence of infection-related cancers among migrant groups, therefore the patterns of three such cancer types were examined among migrant groups in relation to Australian-born residents.

What is new?

Using national incidence data for cancers of the stomach, liver and cervix (diagnosed during 2005-2014), we compared incidence rates for selected migrant groups with the incidence rates for the Australian-born population. There were wide variations in cancer incidence between countries or regions of birth for all three cancer types.

The patterns were similar for cancers of the stomach and the liver. Migrants from countries with higher incidence rates continued to maintain this increased risk in Australia. The highest incidents rates were among South American migrants for stomach cancer, and among Vietnamese migrants for liver cancer.

By contrast, incidence rates of cervical cancer were lower for many migrant groups, with women from Southern Asia and North Africa having the lowest rates. The rate of cervical cancer was higher in migrants from New Zealand, Philippines, and Polynesia.

What does this mean?

Several Australian migrant groups were found to experience a higher burden of infection-related cancers. Further study may be needed around associated risk factors to provide effective interventions and resolve these differences.

It is hoped that these results will motivate and inform prevention or early detection activities for migrant groups that have been identified.

Contact: Peter Baade

Reference: Yu XQ, Feletto E, Smith MA, Yuill S, Baade PD. Cancer incidence in migrants in Australia: patterns of three infection-related cancers. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 2022. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-21-1349.

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Note: study led by researchers at Cancer Council New South Wales (Daffodil Centre).