Stateline Dispatch

Cancer Death Rates Decline, Differ by State


  • January 7, 2014
  • Stateline
  • By Christine Vestal

An estimated 1.7 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and 585,720 of them are expected to die from the disease, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society.  But that mortality rate is 20 percent lower than it was in 1991.

The annual death rate (deaths per 100,000 people) in the U.S. from all cancers combined has declined steadily for two decades, from a peak of 215.1 in 1991 to 171.8 in 2010. That translates into the avoidance of roughly 1,340,400 cancer deaths.

Between 2006 and 2010, the average annual death rate for the U.S. was 176 out of every 100,000 people, but there were significant differences between the states. The highest rates were in Kentucky (210), Mississippi (204), Louisiana (201), West Virginia (201) and Tennessee (199). Arizona (155), New Mexico (156), California (160), Idaho (163) and North Dakota (165) had the lowest rates.

The biggest reduction in cancer deaths over the past two decades was among middle-aged African American men, whose death rate declined 50 percent.

“The progress we are seeing is good, even remarkable, but we can and must do even better,” said John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. “The halving of the risk of cancer death among middle-aged black men in just two decades is extraordinary, but it is immediately tempered by the knowledge that death rates are still higher among black men than white men for nearly every major cancer and for all cancers combined.”

Across all demographic groups in the U.S., the average annual incidence of cancer between 2006 and 2010 was 470 per 100,000 people.  It was highest in Kentucky (523), Delaware (512), Maine (511), New Hampshire (507) and Rhode Island (507).  The rate was lowest in Arizona (401), New Mexico (406), Utah (419), Hawaii (430), and Colorado (433).

January 7, 2014
Christine Vestal