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Facts and Figures

  • More than any other racial group, American Indians and Alaska Natives continue to have the poorest survival of all cancers combined. [1]
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death among Native Americans more than 45 years of age. [2, 3]
  • Cancer rates previously reported to be lower in American Indian and Alaska Natives increased in these groups during the past twenty years. [2, 3]
  • Cancer data for American Indians/Alaska Natives from one region of the United States cannot be used to generalize to Native people living in another part of the country. [1]
  • The types of cancer experienced within Native communities vary significantly by geographic region with some unusual patterns (such as colon and lung cancer among Alaska Natives; lung, cervical, breast, and prostate cancer among Northern Plains tribes; and stomach and gallbladder cancer among Southwest tribes). [1]


1. Annual Report of the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2004, Featuring Cancer in American Indians and Alaska Natives,

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service. Trends in Indian Health, 1998-99. Rockville, MD: Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service; 2000.

3. Cobb N, Paisano RE. Patterns of cancer mortality among Native Americans. Cancer 83(11):2377-83, 1998.