On the whole, rates of breast cancer cases are decreasing. However, for certain ethnic groups, the rates have been on a steady increase for the last 15 years. Asian American women from 7 different ethnic backgrounds (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, South Asian and Southeast Asian) have an increased incidence of breast cancer when compared to non-Hispanic white women. It's not just the numbers that are troubling. The data, which is from the California Cancer Registry, shows that these women often have more aggressive cancers and their disease is often detected later. The data is taken only from patients in California, which has the largest population of Asian Americans in the United States. However, researchers believe it's relevant to all states.
Some reasons for the increased incidence could be assimilation into American culture. Dietary changes and other lifestyle habits not common in their home countries might be responsible for the rates of cancer. Also, Asian women tend to be less communicative and more private about health concerns and so might not bring up concerns with their health care providers until a problem becomes obvious. More research is needed to find out what can be done to mitigate the increase in this population.