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Incidence of gastrointestinal cancers by ethnic group in England, 2001–2007
  1. Raghib Ali1,2,
  2. Isobel Barnes1,
  3. Benjamin J Cairns1,
  4. Alexander E Finlayson1,
  5. Neeraj Bhala3,4,
  6. Mohandas Mallath5,
  7. Valerie Beral1
  1. 1Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  2. 2Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Institute of Public Health, United Arab Emirates University, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates
  3. 3Clinical Trial Service Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  4. 4Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, Birmingham, UK
  5. 5Centre for Cancer Epidemiology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Raghib Ali, Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Richard Doll Building, Oxford OX3 7LF, UK; raghib.ali{at}


Objective To compare the incidence of six gastrointestinal cancers (colorectal, oesophageal, gastric, liver, gallbladder and pancreatic) among the six main ‘non-White’ ethnic groups in England (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black African, Black Caribbean and Chinese) to each other and to Whites.

Methods We analysed all 378 511 gastrointestinal cancer registrations from 2001–2007 in England. Ethnicity was obtained by linkage to the Hospital Episodes Statistics database and we used mid-year population estimates from 2001–2007. Incidence rate ratios adjusted for age, sex and income were calculated, comparing the six ethnic groups (and combined ‘South Asian’ and ‘Black’ groups) to Whites and to each other.

Results There were significant differences in the incidence of all six cancers between the ethnic groups (all p<0.001). In general, the ‘non-White’ groups had a lower incidence of colorectal, oesophageal and pancreatic cancer compared to Whites and a higher incidence of liver and gallbladder cancer. Gastric cancer incidence was lower in South Asians but higher in Blacks and Chinese. There was strong evidence of differences in risk between Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis for cancer of the oesophagus, stomach, liver and gallbladder (all p<0.001) and between Black Africans and Black Caribbeans for liver and gallbladder cancer (both p<0.001).

Conclusions The risk of gastrointestinal cancers varies greatly by individual ethnic group, including within those groups that have traditionally been grouped together (South Asians and Blacks). Many of these differences are not readily explained by known risk factors and suggest that important, potentially modifiable causes of these cancers are still to be discovered.

  • Cancer Epidemiology
  • Cancer Registries
  • Gastrointestinal Cancer

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