Cambodian cancer incidence rates in California and Washington, 1998–2002


  • Ravie Kem PharmD,

    1. Pharmaceutical Management Branch, Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, Division Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Kenneth C. Chu PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Disparities Research Branch, Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland
    • National Cancer Institute, 6116 Executive Blvd., Room 602, Bethesda, MD 20892-8341
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    • Fax: (302) 435-9225



Among the many diverse Asian ethnic groups living in the US, Cambodian immigrants comprise a small fraction (1.8%) of the total Asian population. Because of their small numbers, Cambodian vital statistics are often combined into Southeast Asian (SA) cancer data consisting of Vietnamese, Thais, Laotians, and Hmong.


The 2000 Census counts were used for 2 Cambodian populations, Cambodians alone and Cambodians alone and in combination with any other racial/ethnic group for California and for Seattle (Puget Sound area), Washington. Then the cancer incidence rates were calculated using cancer cases from the California and Puget Sound cancer registries between 1998–2002. The 1998–2002 annual age-adjusted incidence rates, upper bound rates (based on the Cambodian alone population), lower bound rates (based on the Cambodians alone or in combination population) are reported and compared with the rates in the non-Hispanic White (NHW) population in these regions.


The top 5 cancers in Cambodian males are lung and bronchus, liver, prostate, colorectal, and stomach cancers. The sites where the rates are higher in male Cambodians than NHW males are (in ascending rank) nasopharynx, liver, stomach, myeloma, and lung and bronchus. The top 5 cancers for female Cambodians are breast, lung, colon and rectum, cervix, and thyroid. The sites where female rates are greater than NHW female rates are (in ascending rank) nasopharynx, liver, stomach, cervix uteri, oral cavity, and thyroid.


The challenges to address the health issues of Cambodians are complicated by historical events that caused their emigration to the US. Many of the immigrants are survivors of the holocaust in Cambodia. Health programs for Cambodians must deal with the consequences of these issues as well as cultural issues of language and religion in helping Cambodians to reduce their cancer disparities. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.