Cancer incidence rates among South Asians in four geographic regions: India, Singapore, UK and US

Tanuja Rastogi, Susan Devesa, Punam Mangtani, Aleyamma Mathew, Nicola Cooper, Roy Kao, Rashmi Sinha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Background: Data are limited regarding cancer incidence among Indians residing in different geographic regions around the world. Examining such rates may provide us with insights into future aetiological research possibilities as well as screening and prevention. Methods: Incidence rates for all cancers combined and 19 specific cancers were obtained for India from Globocan 2002, for Indians in Singapore from Cancer Incidence in Five Continents (VIII), and from national data sources for South Asians (SA) in the United Kingdom (UK) and for Asian Indians/Pakistanis (AIP) and whites in the United States (US). Results: We observed the lowest total cancer incidence rates in India (111 and 116 per 100 000 among males and females, respectively, age-standardized to the 1960 world population) and the highest among US whites (362 and 296). Cancer incidence rates among Indians residing outside of India were: intermediate Singapore (102 and 132), UK (173 and 179) and US ranges 152-176 and 142-164. A similar pattern was observed for cancers of the colorectum, prostate, thyroid, pancreas, lung, breast and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In contrast, rates for cancers of the oral cavity, oesophagus, larynx and cervix uteri were highest in India. Although little geographic variability was apparent for stomach cancer incidence, Indians in Singapore had the highest rates compared with any other region. The UK SA and the US AIP appear with adopt the cancer patterns of their host country. Conclusion: Variations in environmental exposures such as tobacco use, diet and infection, as well as better health care access and knowledge may explain some of the observed incidence differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-160
Number of pages14
JournalInternational journal of epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute (NCI). The Division of Cancer Epidemiology (NCI) group appreciates the efforts of Kenneth Chu (Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, NCI), John Lahey (IMS, Inc.) and Lynn Ries (SEER, DCCPS, Surveillance Research Program, Cancer Statistics Branch, NCI). We also appreciate the contribution of state cancer registries: Mark Allen (California Cancer Registry), Colleen McLaughlin and Serban Negoita (New York State Cancer Registry), Lisa Paddock (New Jersey State Cancer Registry), Paul Betts (Texas Cancer Registry), James Carreira (Florida Cancer Data System), Alan Fleegal (Pennsylvania State Cancer Registry) and Georgia Spivak (Michigan Cancer Surveillance Program). From the California Cancer Registry: the collection of cancer incidence data used in this study was supported by the California Department of Health Services as part of the statewide cancer reporting program mandated by California Health and Safety Code Section 103885; the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program under contract N01-PC-35136 awarded to the Northern California Cancer Center, contract N01-PC-35139 awarded to the University of Southern California and contract N02-PC-15105 awarded to the Public Health Institute; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Program of Cancer Registries, under agreement #U55/ CCR921930-02 awarded to the Public Health Institute. The ideas and opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and endorsement by the State of California, Department of Health Services, the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or their contractors and subcontractors neither is intended nor should be inferred. From the Pennsylvania State Cancer Registry: these data were provided by the Bureau of Health Statistics, Pennsylvania Department of Health. The Department specifically disclaims responsibility for any analyses, interpretations or conclusions. The England and Wales Cancer Group (Michel Coleman, Mike Quinn) gratefully acknowledge the work of colleagues in the cancer registries in England and Wales who collected the original cancer patient data for collation by the National Cancer Registry at the UK Office for National Statistics.


  • Asian Indians
  • Cancer incidence
  • India
  • Singapore Indians
  • South Asians


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