Cancer in the U.S. Pacific

Significant health disparities exist between the populations of U.S. mainland and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) jurisdictions. This is due to multiple complex factors, including historical, social, cultural, environmental, and economic.


Health disparities also exist within the Pacific Islands themselves, most notably between populations living on the ‘main’ or central island and those living in the ‘outer’ islands far from any ‘urban’ area. Rapid westernization has adversely affected many of the social, cultural, and environmental structures and practices that traditionally protected and supported good health in the USAPI. Areas that were significantly impacted by westernization of the Pacific are:

  • the rapid adoption of unhealthy practices and behaviors such as tobacco and alcohol use
  • reduction in daily physical activity
  • increase in the consumption of non-local foods with little nutritional value

As a result, the incidence and prevalence of all non-communicable diseases have risen exponentially in the Pacific in just 15 years. Cancer mortality is now the second most common cause of death in nearly all USAPI jurisdictions. Due to constrained economic conditions in the Freely Associated States (FAS), increasing numbers of FAS citizens are out-migrating to Hawai’i, Guam and throughout the U.S. This adds to the complexity of cancer registration.

U.S. Pacific Island Jurisdictions Map
Map of the U.S. Affiliated Pacific


Top 13 Adult Cancers in the U.S. Pacific 2007 - 2021

If you wish to learn more about cancer in the Pacific, please read our newest publication, Cancer in the USAPI 2007-2020 (508 comp)


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) –
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Pacific Comprehensive Cancer Control Plans –
University of Hawai’i – Department of Family Medicine and Community Health – Pacific Cancer Program – ARTICLES
National Cancer Institute (NCI) –
American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) –
Oncology Stat –