Cancer: biggest killer among Hispanics

Friday, February 1, 2013 - 9:42am

This year an estimated 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 580,000 will die from it.

However, there is an even more alarming statistic among Hispanics, cancer has now overtaken heart disease as the leading killer. This also includes a rise among kids with cancer and here in the valley it's hitting hard at home.

Victoria Guerra of the Vannie E. Cook JR. Children's Cancer and Hematology Clinic says,"Because it is unfortunate and I mentioned the number is rising and it is not going away, well as we are the RGV is primarily Hispanic and unfortunately we have continued to see the level of childhood cancer in Hispanics rise."

Cancer here in the Rio Grande Valley isn't only affecting grown adults, but kids, young kids like Victoria Vasquez who learned she was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 12.
"You know it just happened so fast, but a good thing is that my daughter was referred to this clinic, we didn't have to move out of the valley." Said Aurora Vasquez, Victoria's mother.

For Vasquez and her family the Vannie E. Cook JR. Children's Cancer and Hematology clinic in McAllen has brought them hope and optimism and the more she comes here the closer she feels she is cancer free. Victoria Vasquez says, "Just believe, God is with you, he will help you and you will get through this."

When it comes to battling cancer the Reyna family understands the pain, they lost their daughter Lourdes to a rare type of leukemia in 2010. Veronica Reyna says, "It was devastating for our family, our life completely turned that day, we went through eight rounds of chemo and nine months of fighting the fight, but unfortunately she lost her battle on November 26th, 2010."

For the Reyna family their daughter's legacy continues, they started a non-profit organization named the Lourdes D. Lifeline Foundation which helps transport kids to and from the clinic to their doctors appointments.

On the other hand thanks to high advanced treatments more adults and kids are able to battle this killer, especially if it's detected early, that's why cancer screenings are so important.

However, this epidemic seems to be getting worse, according to the American Cancer Society in 2012 there were more than 113,000 new cases of cancer among Hispanics and more than 33,000 deaths."

The American Cancer Society also says Hispanics are more likely to struggle with cancers of the stomach, liver, cervix, and gallbladder in contrast to other races and mix that with such a high obesity rate among Hispanics in the valley is only making a bigger threat.

Dr. Otis Brawley from the American Cancer Society says, "In the next 10 or 15 years it will be possible that the obesity epidemic will become the leading cause of cancer surpassing tobacco."

Moreover, here locally this could impact the gains of cancer among Hispanics.

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