Special Report

The States With the Most People Dying From Cancer


To identify the states with the most (and least) people dying from cancer, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed annual average age-adjusted cancer mortality rates in each state for the period from 2004 through 2010 based on data from the CDC WONDER tool. We also reviewed the age-adjusted incidence of new cancer diagnoses in each state from the same period. We also looked at mortality and incidence rates for specific types of cancer.

To measure how likely death and diagnoses of each cancer type was in each state relative to the nation as a whole, we calculated a location quotient for each cancer type. In addition, we computed the mortality-to-incidence ratio as a proxy for survival rates in each state, a widely used statistic in population-based studies on cancer survival. It is the mortality rate for a specific cancer in a state divided by its incidence rate.

We also considered the share of adults who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and the share of residents who could not see a doctor because of costs from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The percentage of adults who were obese, the percentage of adults meeting certain exercise requirements in 2013, and the number of primary care providers per 100,000 people in 2012 also came from the CDC. From the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey, we considered the proportion of the population without health insurance and each state’s poverty rate. The share of the population with limited access to healthy food in 2012 came from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Occupational data for 2014 came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.