Special Report

The States With the Most People Dying From Cancer

The States With the Highest Cancer Mortality Rates

10. Oklahoma
> Cancer mortality rate: 194.3 per 100,000
> Poverty rate: 16.8% (16th highest)
> Lung cancer mortality rate: 62.7 per 100,000 (8th highest)
> Pct. of population with smoking history: 24.1% (3rd highest)

Each year, for every 100,000 Oklahoma residents, 490 were diagnosed with cancer. The annual mortality rate from cancer-related complications was 194.3 deaths per 100,000 residents, the 10th-highest in the country and considerably higher than the national rate of 179 cancer deaths per 100,000 people. As in other states with especially high cancer-related death rates, Oklahoma residents had relatively unhealthy behaviors. The state had the third-highest prevalence of smoking history. Residents also had relatively poor access to healthy food, which likely contributed to unhealthy eating habits. Lung cancers contributed the most to Oklahoma’s high incidence of cancer.

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9. Ohio
> Cancer mortality rate: 194.5 per 100,000
> Poverty rate: 15.9% (22nd highest)
> Lung cancer mortality rate: 59.5 per 100,000 (12th highest)
> Pct. of population with smoking history: 21.2% (11th highest)

Ohio had the sixth most cancer deaths per year in the country, and is tied with Indiana for the ninth highest cancer-related mortality rate. While the state had a high prevalence of smoking history, it performed much better in other health risk factors, including having the 14th lowest rate of residents without health insurance, at 11%. Some cancers are more common than others. As in every other state with the highest cancer mortality rate, lung cancers were the largest contributors to the cancer death rate in Ohio. Also, the mortality rate from tonsil cancer was higher than the national rate.

8. Indiana
> Cancer mortality rate: 194.5 per 100,000
> Poverty rate: 90,422 16.0% (20th highest)
> Lung cancer mortality rate: 62.3 per 100,000 (9th highest)
> Pct. of population with smoking history: 22.8% (5th highest)

Indiana had the fifth highest rate of current or former smokers with 22.8% of adults having smoked at least 100 cigarettes over their lifetime. Relatively poor access to health care in the state also may have contributed to the high cancer death rate. There were 35.5 doctors per 100,000 people, versus the national rate of 46.1 doctors per 100,000 Americans. Despite having one of the 10-highest cancer mortality rates in the country, no single cancer had a rate that was more than 1.25 times the national rate. Lung and other respiratory cancer deaths occurred 1.2 times more frequently than the rest of the nation, or at 62.3 deaths per 100,000 people. The incidence of respiratory cancers in the state was 83.8 diagnoses per 100,000 people.

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7. Alabama
> Cancer mortality rate: 198.7 per 100,000
> Poverty rate: 18.7% (7th highest)
> Lung cancer mortality rate: 62.9 per 100,000 (7th highesT)
> Pct. of population with smoking history: 21.9% (9th highest)

Alabama had the ninth highest rate of current or former smokers, with 21.9% of adults reporting they had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes. Like several other states with the highest cancer mortality rates, Alabama residents are not especially wealthy. The state’s poverty rate of 18.7% was the seventh highest nationwide. The states with the highest incidence of new diagnoses did not necessarily have the highest cancer mortality rate, suggesting that other health risk factors such as access to care and healthy behavior have a significant impact on cancer survival. Alabama, had the 16th lowest incidence of cancer diagnoses in the country, with 482.7 new diagnoses per 100,000 people annually. Yet, the state’s cancer-related mortality rate was the seventh highest in the nation.

6. Arkansas
> Cancer mortality rate: 200.7 per 100,000
> Poverty rate: 19.7% (4th highest)
> Lung cancer mortality rate: 67.4 per 100,000 (4th highest)
> Pct. of population with smoking history: 22.4% (8th highest)

Relatively unhealthy habits, poor economic factors, and low access to health care and healthy food options likely made surviving cancer much more difficult for many Arkansas residents. Nearly 33% of residents were obese, and more than 22% reported a history of tobacco use — both among the highest such rates in the nation. Also, nearly one in five residents lived in poverty, the fourth highest rate. The percentage of people unable to afford to see a doctor was eighth highest. Arkansas had a relatively low incidence of cancer diagnoses, despite the fact that more than 200 deaths per 100,000 people were associated with the disease, which was one of the highest mortality rates in the country. With 43 cancer deaths for every 100 cancer diagnoses, Arkansas had the worst cancer survival rate in the country.