Differences in the cancer burden among foreign-born and US-born Arab Americans living in metropolitan Detroit

Fatima Khan, Julie J. Ruterbusch, Scarlett L. Gomez, Kendra Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose: Migrant studies often provide clues for cancer etiology. We estimated the cancer burden among Arab Americans (ArA) by immigrant status in the metropolitan Detroit area, home to one of the highest concentrations of ArA in USA. Methods: A validated name algorithm was used to identify ArA cancer cases diagnosed 1990-2009 in the Detroit SEER database. Recorded birthplace was supplemented with imputation of nativity using birthdate and social security number. Age-adjusted, gender-specific proportional incidence ratios and 95 % confidence intervals were calculated comparing all ArA, foreign-born ArA, and US-born ArA, to non-Hispanic Whites (NHW). Results: Foreign-born ArA males had higher proportions of multiple myeloma, leukemia, kidney, liver, stomach, and bladder cancer than NHW, while bladder cancer and leukemia were higher among US-born ArA males. For ArA women, gall bladder and thyroid cancers were proportionally higher among both foreign- and US-born compared with NHW. Stomach cancer was proportionally higher only among foreign-born women. Conclusions: Cancer proportional incidence patterns among ArA show some similarity to other migrant groups, with higher proportional incidences of stomach and liver cancers among foreign-born than US-born. Other patterns, such as tobacco-related cancers among ArA men and gall bladder and thyroid cancers among ArA women, will require more investigation of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1955-1961
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This project was supported by funds from the National Cancer Institute at National Institutes of Health (HHSN261201000028C).


  • Arab Americans
  • Cancer incidence
  • Migrant groups
  • Proportional incidence ratios


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