Editor’s note: This story was written by a high school student in Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation’s Summer Youth Leadership Program. This story is part of a special back-to-school issue.
By Lane Shigihara
While heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, cancer has been the number one killer of Asian American women since 1980. Some staggering statistics show that the Japanese have the highest incidences of colorectal cancer, female breast cancer, and uterine cancer among all Asian subgroups. Lung cancer rates among Southeast Asians are 18 percent higher than among whites. And the incidences of liver cancer in Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese populations are 1.7 to 11.3 times higher than in whites.
Ever since our predecessors emigrated from their native Asian countries, they began adopting a Western lifestyle. This resulted in the continuous consumption of unhealthy foods and lack of exercise.
Unfortunately, Asian Americans are losing their battle against cancer. It is our duty as Asian Americans to spread cancer awareness among our local Asian communities in order for people to begin living healthier, longer, and cancer-free lives.
Over the years, the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has collected and analyzed the statistics for cancerous diseases. The SEER team as documented specific populations that are being impacted in the United States. The SEER Program informs the public of the level of any type of cancer for all cultures and ethnicities.
The data that the program gathers every year is like a report card for cancer — Asian Americans are flunking. At the same time, the number of people taking action to prevent this disease is also rising. Organizations such as the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training are leading this crusade.
With the newly acquired knowledge from SEER, one can understand how serious this problem really is. I am confident that with the public gaining awareness, the number of Asian Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer will drop.
Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States. It is crucial that every Asian American should schedule an appointment with their doctor to scan for any symptoms of cancer.
People have the opportunity to change their lives by applying good nutrition, fitness, and stress relief exercises to decrease the likelihood of a future cancer diagnosis.
I choose a life without cancer. I challenge you to make a difference in your life and the lives of other Asian Americans. ♦