New AACR Progress Report Promotes Health Equity-focused Cancer Research

June 8, 2022

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) released its 2022 Cancer Disparities Progress Report today, which raises awareness about the enormous toll that cancer places on racial and ethnic minorities, and other medically underserved populations. The UH Cancer Center’s Hawaiʻi Tumor Registry, responsible for cancer surveillance in the state of Hawaiʻi, provided the latest cancer data in the report, highlighting the impact of cancer health disparities on Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.

AACR 2022 report cover
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2022 Cancer Disparities Progress Report

Hawaiian men had the lowest incidence, but the highest mortality of prostate cancer, while breast cancer incidence and mortality were highest among Native Hawaiian women compared to any other racial or ethnic group. Samoan males were 66 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, but 34 percent less likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer compared to Native Hawaiian males. Lung cancer incidence was highest among Native Hawaiian men and women, and lung cancer mortality was highest in Native Hawaiian women compared to the other population groups in the state.

The progress report features Lillian (Kehau) Matsumoto, a 78-year-old Hawaiian patient advocate, five-time cancer survivor and member of the UH Cancer Center’s Community Advisory Board. "The AACR Report allows me to educate more people, especially Native Hawaiians, about cancer disparities, and hopefully they will seek help early." Matsumoto said.

The report also highlights areas of recent progress and strategies to reduce cancer health disparities through screening guidelines, increased access to health insurance, tailored interventions through community engagement, and ways of improving communication between patients and physicians, while offering specific recommendations to achieve health equity regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socioeconomic status. These interventions play a critical role in helping to reduce the burden of cancer in Hawaiʻi, the Pacific, and beyond.

Speaking to the importance of the report, Dr. Cassel, Associate Professor at the UH Cancer Center who also serves on the AACR’s steering committee for the newly released report stated, “The progress report represents a tremendous snapshot of the cancer-related disparities experienced in the U.S. and also ways to address these disparities in cancer care.”