In contrast to other ethnic groups, South Asian American women have experienced steadily increasing breast cancer rates over the past 15 years, concluded a study released April 10 by the Cancer Prevention Institute of California.

Prior research of breast cancer rates have studied Asian American women as a whole. This is the first study to include data about specific ethnicities within the Asian American umbrella.

Of the seven major Asian American ethnicities included in the study, researchers found the largest increase amongst South Asian Americans – defined as Indian Americans and Pakistanis in this study – Koreans, and Southeast Asians, including Cambodians, Hmong, Laotians and Thai women.

Korean and South Asian women have the lowest mammography utilization, consistent with their higher rates of later-stage disease, noted the study.

Increasing trends of late-stage disease, particularly among Filipino, Korean and South Asian women, suggest a need for higher rates of mammography screening in these populations, said lead researcher Scarlett Lin Gomez of CPIC, which is based in Fremont, Calif.

Researchers looked at patterns from 1988 to 2013 – 25 years – and identified more than 45,000 cases of invasive breast cancer in Asian American women in California during that time period. Researchers used data from the California Cancer Registry. California has the most substantial population of Asian Americans.

“These patterns warrant additional attention to public health prioritization to target disparities in access to care, as well as further research in identifying relevant breast cancer risk factors for specific breast cancer subtypes,” said Gomez in a press statement released by CPIC.

The study was supported by the Stanford Cancer Institute and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program.

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