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May Is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month – It's a Perfect Time to Think About Cancer Prevention

May 23, 2017

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The month of May has been designated by Congress as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This is a time to honor all Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. May was chosen for this observance because it is significant for two reasons: the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States took place on May 7, 1843, and the construction of the transcontinental railroad was completed on May 10, 1869 (the majority of workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants).

As we celebrate the generations of Asians and Pacific Islanders who have enriched the history of America and will be instrumental in its future success, we should also recognize some of the unique health challenges faced by this population. For instance, cancer is a leading cause of death among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, with certain types of cancer striking this group far more often than others.

Of course, cancer knows no boundaries, and knowledge about its prevention is still evolving. However, it is well established that some simple lifestyle practices can significantly reduce cancer risk. These include:

  • Avoiding tobacco products as well as exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Eating a nutritious diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other plant sources
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Limiting consumption of alcoholic beverages

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we are dedicated to the prevention and early detection of cancer in all individuals. However, we recognize that few health programs are specifically designed to accommodate the cultural and social needs of ethnic minorities, such as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and we are working continually to reduce that disparity. We believe the first step is improving breast, prostate, cervical, colorectal and lung cancer screening rates through increased knowledge, outreach and accessibility. To achieve the full benefits of cancer prevention, it will be necessary to focus on and gain a full understanding of the unique cultural, linguistic and behavioral characteristics of this group, and we are committed to doing so.

If you’d like to take advantage of the extensive cancer prevention and diagnostic services available at Moffitt Cancer Center, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form online. You are welcome to request an appointment with or without a referral.