Special Report

The States With the Most People Dying From Cancer

The States With the Lowest Cancer Mortality Rates

10. New York
> Cancer mortality rate: 169.1 per 100,000
> Poverty rate: 16.0% (20th highest)
> Lung cancer mortality rate: 45.6 per 100,000 (40th highest)
> Pct. of population with smoking history: 16.6% (14th lowest)

New York had the ninth highest incidence of cancer in the country and the second-best mortality-to-incidence ratio, with just 32 deaths for every 100 new diagnoses per year over the reporting period, compared to 36.3 across the country. The state ranked well for many health risk factors, which could have contributed to the state’s lower cancer mortality rate. For example, just 2.5% of New York’s population had limited access to healthy food, the lowest proportion in the country. The state also had the seventh lowest obesity rate of 24.2%, and the eighth best ratio of primary care physicians per population. The highest relative cancer mortality rate in the state was from Kaposi Sarcoma, a disease closely linked to HIV/AIDS, and was 1.43 times higher than the national rate.

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9. Wyoming
> Cancer mortality rate: 168.6 per 100,000
> Poverty rate: 10.9% (6th lowest)
> Lung cancer mortality rate: 43.9 per 100,000 (9th lowest)
> Pct. of population with smoking history: 19.8% (17th highest)

Wyoming‘s poverty rate of 10.9% was the sixth-lowest in the nation. Like several other states with especially low cancer death rates, relative financial stability may have helped Wyoming residents stay healthy. The state is far and away the largest producer of coal in the nation, accounting for nearly 40% of all U.S. production in 2012. However, unlike Kentucky and West Virginia — where the vast majority of coal miners work underground — 95.8% of those employed in coal mining in Wyoming work on the surface, significantly reducing the risk associated with such work. While nearly 20% of the population reported a history of smoking, a relatively high percentage, the mortality rate from lung cancers was 0.78 times the national average.

8. North Dakota
> Cancer mortality rate: 165.7 per 100,000
> Poverty rate: 11.8% (10th lowest)
> Lung cancer mortality rate: 43.6 per 100,000 (8th lowest)
> Pct. of population with smoking history: 18.1% (23rd highest)

Several economic factors in North Dakota may be contributing to the state’s low cancer mortality rate. North Dakota had the lowest percentage of people in the nation who could not afford to see a doctor, and the 10th lowest poverty rate. Cancers of the peritoneum, omentum, and mesentery (which are structures in and surrounding the abdomen) had a mortality rate 2.25 times higher than the national rate. The mortality rate of blood cancers in the state were much lower than the national rate.

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7. Idaho
> Cancer mortality rate: 165.2 per 100,000
> Poverty rate: 15.6% (25th highest)
> Lung cancer mortality rate: 42.8 per 100,000 (6th lowest)
> Pct. of population with smoking history: 16.5% (13th lowest)

The incidence of cancers in Idaho was the 15th lowest in the nation at an age-adjusted 480.8 new diagnoses per 100,000 people each year. The mortality rate of cancer of the ureter, the part of the body that connects the kidneys and the bladder, was 1.86 times the national rate. Liver cancer, mostly associated with chronic alcohol use, had a mortality rate of only 0.65 times the national rate. In 2012, 14.5% of adults in the state reported drinking excessively in the past 30 days, one of the lower percentages nationwide.

6. California
> Cancer mortality rate: 162.8 per 100,000
> Poverty rate: 16.8% (16th highest)
> Lung cancer mortality rate: 40.8 per 100,000 (5th lowest)
> Pct. of population with smoking history: 12.9% (2nd lowest)

With the second lowest rate of former and current smokers, third lowest obesity rate, third lowest percentage of people with limited access to healthy food, California performed well for multiple health risk factors, which could contribute to the state’s low cancer mortality rate. However, some forms of cancer still hit California residents harder than others. The age-adjusted mortality rate for nasopharyngeal cancer (an area at the back of the passages through the nose) was 1.52 times the national average. This cancer is associated with Asian ancestry — and California has the second highest Asian population in the country after Hawaii.