Which States Have The Highest And Lowest Cancer Rates


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  • We evaluated the CDC data records to determine which states had the highest and lowest cancer rates. These rates were calculated by
  • taking the total number of new cancer cases per 100,000 residents.

Kentucky has the nation’s highest cancer rate, while New Mexico has the lowest. A multitude of factors contribute to these rankings, including access to medical resources and adult smoking rates. We’ll take a closer look at how these and other states rank and why.

Southern states have the highest cancer rates in the United States

Three southern states have the highest cancer rates in the nation. Kentucky leads the way with 503.4 new incidences of cancer per 100,000 state citizens. Louisiana just edges out Arkansas for second place, with cancer rates of 486.6 and 486.4, respectively. These rates all exceed the national average of 436 new cancer cases per 100,000 persons.

Poverty is a significant factor facing half of this top ten list, and it is thought to contribute to increased cancer risk. Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Mississippi are the six states with the highest proportion of people living in poverty.

Kentucky has the highest cancer rates

Kentucky tops the country in more than just new cancer cases. When it comes to specific types of cancer, it has the greatest incidence of new lung cancer cases, the second-highest rates of colon and pancreatic cancer, and the third-highest rate of laryngeal cancer. In contrast, it is worth noting that the state has the nation’s fifth-lowest risk of ovarian cancer.

Kentucky’s ranking on these rankings is influenced by a large percentage of people living with cancer-causing conditions such as smoking and obesity, as well as limited access to health options due to economic hardship. Sixteen percent of the state’s population lives in poverty. Obese adults account for 36% of the population, and the state has the second-highest rate of adult smokers.

Mountain States Have the Lowest Cancer Rates

Three states in the Mountain time zone have the lowest cancer rates. New Mexico ranked first, with 350.4 new cancer cases per 100,000 people yearly. Arizona has the second-lowest rate (368.1), while Colorado has the third-lowest (387.2).

To present, academics have been unable to discover scientific reasons for this region’s continuously low cancer rates.

Cancer rates are lowest in New Mexico

New Mexico has had the lowest overall cancer rates in the country for numerous years. It now boasts the lowest national rates of breast cancer, as well as Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The state also ranks in the top five lowest for a variety of other cancers, including second-lowest rates for lung and pancreatic cancer. According to the American Lung Association, New Mexico’s early diagnosis rate for lung cancer has improved by 28% in the last five years.

Oral cancer appears to be a problem in New Mexico, with the third highest incidence in the country.

How States Rank Among the Most Common Cancers

The National Cancer Institute reports that the most prevalent cancers affecting Americans are breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer. Last year, new instances of breast cancer in the United States were expected to total 284,200. Prostate cancer cases were forecast to rise by 248,530, and 235,760 more lung cancer cases were predicted.

Breast Cancer Rates in the United States.

Hawaii has the country’s highest breast cancer rate (145.8). The state has the highest proportion of people of mixed race in the United States, which some experts believe may be a contributing cause. According to a cancer researcher from Hawaii, “Disparities in cancer risk and outcomes across racial and ethnic groups may reflect genetic variation as well as differences in diet, tobacco and alcohol use, obesity and other lifestyle exposures.”

Rhode Island and Montana had the second-highest breast cancer rate, while Washington, D.C. and New Hampshire tied for third. While figures reveal that New Mexico has the lowest breast cancer rate in the country, there are still 109 new cases per 100,000 individuals. Overall, scientists expect breast cancer to account for 31% of all new cancer diagnoses in women by 2022.

Prostate Cancer Rates in the United States

According to current statistics, men in Louisiana are most likely to develop prostate cancer. Because African American males are twice as likely as men of other races to die from low-grade prostate cancer, Louisiana’s big African American population plays an important role in explaining the increased proportion of cases.

The top five states with the highest prostate cancer rates are Louisiana (148.9), Nebraska (141.6), New Jersey (139.1), Mississippi (138.3), and Montana (134.8). On the other end of the scale, Arizona has less than half the rate of prostate cancer as Louisiana (71.1 vs. 148.9).

Lung Cancer Rates in the United States

Regardless matter where you reside, lung cancer is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States. It is estimated to account for 21% of all cancer deaths by 2022. Kentucky’s high lung cancer rate of 82.8 is about 30 points higher than the national annual average of 54 new cases per 100,000 persons. According to recent studies, lung cancer has a significant impact on low-income individuals in Appalachian Kentucky areas.

All of the states with the highest lung cancer rates (Kentucky, Arkansas, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Tennessee) have a high adult smoking rate.

Reasons for the differences in state cancer rates

There is no single explanation for why cancer rates in your own state differ from those in another. These differences between states are due to a variety of variables. Important elements to consider are:

Access to Resources: Poverty has a direct impact on a person’s ability to receive medical treatment, especially vital cancer screenings. Early detection through screenings increases the odds of survival. Low awareness of certain signs and cancer dangers can result in delayed diagnoses and greater mortality.
Smoking Rates: States with a higher population of adult smokers tend to have higher cancer rates, as smoking cigarettes increases your risk of developing lung cancer by 20 times. Overall, smoking accounts for at least 87% of lung cancer fatalities.
Obesity Rates: Excess body weight is associated with an increased risk of acquiring 13 forms of cancer. These malignancies, which include breast, esophageal, thyroid, and pancreatic, account for 40% of all cancer diagnoses in the United States each year.

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