States With the Highest Cancer Rates

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Cancer affects nearly all Americans, touching the lives of those fighting the disease, those who support them, or those who have lost someone close to them. Over the decades since President Richard Nixon declared a war on cancer in 1971, tremendous progress has been made in detecting and treating the disease — but a cure remains elusive.

According to government research group the National Cancer Institute, there will be approximately 1.7 million cancer diagnoses and more than 600,000 deaths from the disease in the United States in 2018. While cancer death rates have been declining for years, diagnoses are expected to rise to nearly 2 million a year by 2020. The increase is largely due to the ongoing growth and aging of the U.S. population. At this rate, cancer soon will be the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer depends on a range of factors that contribute to large variations in cancer incidence between states. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the latest cancer diagnosis rates in every state.

When comparing state cancer diagnosis rates, it is important to note that the conditions leading to cancer diagnosis vary by the disease type. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Eric Feuer, chief of statistical research with the National Cancer Institute, said, “Every different cancer has its own profile of risk factors.”

Alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity, as well as income levels, urban living, pollution, and other behaviors and factors, can all increase the risk of a variety of cancers. And some behaviors and factors drive up the incidence of certain cancers more than others. For example, lung cancer, which is more common in low-income populations, is most closely related to smoking rates. Breast cancer, by contrast, which is screened for and diagnosed at higher rates in higher income locales, is associated with obesity more than with smoking as well as other risk factors such as age of first pregnancy.

We also reviewed overall cancer mortality rate, breast cancer incidence rate, and lung cancer mortality rate, as well as each state’s adult smoking rate.

Click here to see the incidence of cancer in every state.
Click here to see our methodology and detailed findings.