Harding S, Rosato M. Cancer incidence among first generation Scottish, Irish, West Indian and South Asian migrants living in England and Wales. Ethnicity and Health 1999; (1 / 2): 83-92

OBJECTIVES: To examine the incidence of cancers among persons born in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic, Caribbean Commonwealth and Indian subcontinent and living in England and Wales. METHODS: Longitudinal Study of 1% of population of England and Wales followed from 1971 to 1989. Standardised incidence ratios (SIRs) were derived for commonly occurring cancers and all cancers using the age-sex-specific rates for all females and all males in the Longitudinal Study. RESULTS: The incidence of all malignant neoplasms among West Indians (females SIR = 67, male SIR = 70) and Indians (female SIR = 32, male SIR = 52) was low. Among South Asians, this pattern was consistent for Hindus, Sikhs and Moslems. Scottish females showed raised incidence of lung cancer (SIR = 149) and those from the Irish Republic of oral cavity and pharynx (SIR = 321), oesophageal (SIR = 219) and liver (SIR = 373) cancers. Among Northern Irish females, incidence of lung cancer (SIR = 193) was raised. West Indian and South Asian females showed low incidence of breast cancer (SIR = 55 and 45, respectively). High incidence of laryngeal (SIR = 229) and renal (SIR = 203) cancers was observed for Scottish males and of oral cancer (SIR = 259) for males from the Irish Republic. At ages 15-64, raised incidence of prostate cancer (SIR = 129) and of leukaemia (SIR = 252) was also observed for men from the Irish Republic. Northern Irish males showed raised incidence of stomach cancer (SIR = 200). CONCLUSION: This study describes patterns of cancer incidence among migrant groups, most of which reflect environmental influences. This has challenging implications for sensitive targeting of primary interventions. It is important not to be complacent about lower risks of main cancers among West Indians and South Asians. In all Longitudinal Study members, breast cancer was the most common malignancy among females and lung cancer among males. This was also true for all migrant groups with the exception of Northern Irish women for whom lung cancer was the most common.