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Keywords:

  • Greenland;
  • Inuit;
  • cancer incidence;
  • epidemiology;
  • stomach cancer

Abstract

The increasing westernization of the Arctic countries may influence the very particular cancer profile of these populations. Our objective was to investigate the development in cancer incidence from 1973 to 1997 in a large and well-defined Inuit population in Greenland. Greenland is part of the Danish Kingdom, and population statistics covering both countries are available from the same registry resource. Data from the Danish Civil Registration System and from the Danish Cancer Registry were used to calculate age-standardized cancer incidence rates for the periods 1973–1987 and 1988–1997 for persons born in Greenland. Using rates for Denmark, sex-specific standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) for 1988–1997 were calculated. Furthermore, age- and sex-specific incidence rates in the 2 periods were calculated for selected cancers. Total cancer incidence increased from 248.5 to 277.9 per 100,000 person-years in men and from 269.4 to 302.2 per 100,000 person-years in women. The incidence of lung, stomach, breast and colon cancer increased, whereas the incidence of cervical cancer decreased. Compared to the Caucasian population in Denmark, high SIRs were found for cancers of the nasopharynx, salivary gland, esophagus, stomach and cervix and low SIRs for testis, bladder, prostate, breast and hematologic cancers. Overall cancer incidence among Greenlandic Inuit is increasing as a result of increases in several cancers that are common in Western populations. A significant increase in the incidence of stomach cancer in both sexes, which contrasts global trends for this cancer, warrants further investigation. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.