To determine and compare the incidence of cancer among the 8 Arctic States and their northern regions, with special focus on 3 cross-national indigenous groups - Inuit, Athabaskan Indians and Sami.
Data were extracted from national and regional statistical agencies and cancer registries, with direct age-standardization of rates to the world standard population. For comparison, the "world average" rates as reported in the GLOBOCAN database were used.
Age-standardized incidence rates by cancer sites were computed for the 8 Arctic States and 20 of their northern regions, averaged over the decade 2000-2009. Cancer of the lung and colon/rectum in both sexes are the commonest in most populations. We combined the Inuit from Alaska, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Greenland into a "Circumpolar Inuit" group and tracked cancer trends over four 5-year periods from 1989 to 2008. There has been marked increase in lung, colorectal and female breast cancers, while cervical cancer has declined. Compared to the GLOBOCAN world average, Inuit are at extreme high risk for lung and colorectal cancer, and also certain rare cancers such as nasopharyngeal cancer. Athabaskans (from Alaska and Northwest Territories) share some similarities with the Inuit but they are at higher risk for prostate and breast cancer relative to the world average. Among the Sami, published data from 3 cohorts in Norway, Sweden and Finland show generally lower risk of cancer than non-Sami.
Cancer among certain indigenous people in the Arctic is an increasing public health concern, especially lung and colorectal cancer.