World Facts

U.S. States With The Highest Cancer Rates

The Eastern half of the United States exhibits significantly higher rates of cancer than the Western U.S.

Cancer in the US

Cancer has had a major adverse impact on lives and societies across the globe. This fact is particularly true in the United States which has one of the highest rates of cancer in the world. The country ranks at number 7 and estimates suggest that approximately 450 of every 100,000 residents will develop cancer annually. In 2016, new diagnoses will surpass 1.6 million and nearly 600,000 people will fall victim to cancer. Not only is cancer tragic for the patients and their families, but it is also detrimental to the healthcare system. In 2010, national expenditures for cancer reached $125 billion, and this figure is expected to increase to $156 billion by 2020.

Causes of High Cancer Rates

Why is cancer so common in the US? Health professionals believe that most cancers here are caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices. Residents in this country are more likely to be obese, consume large amounts of alcohol, and have sedentary lifestyles than in other parts of the world. This, however, does not mean that the country is doomed to suffer from high cancer rates. Lifestyle is a choice, and the risk of developing cancer can be decreased by becoming physically active, losing weight, and eating healthy.

States With Highest Rates of Cancer

Cancer rates in the US are highest in the eastern side of the country. Kentucky has the highest incidence with 511.7 people out of 100,000 developing the disease every year. One of the poorest states in the nation, it has not sufficiently invested in cancer prevention and detection; therefore, the state also has the highest rate of deaths from cancer. Kentucky was founded on the tobacco industry, a legacy that remains today as nearly a quarter of the population smokes cigarettes. This smoking habit explains why lung cancer is higher here than any other state in the nation.

The second highest cancer rate is found in Delaware where 502 out of every 100,000 residents will develop the disease annually. After being named as one of the states with the highest rates of cancer, Delaware increased its screening and prevention programs which has helped to improve survival and diagnoses rates. Common cancers here are colorectal and prostate. Both can be prevented through early detection.

Number 3 on the list is New York. In this state, the incidence of cancer is 484.3. Cancer is one of the most common chronic diseases here and the second leading cause of death (after heart disease). The most commonly diagnosed type of cancer is prostate followed by lung, breast, and colorectal. Lifestyle behaviors are again to blame, residents here report high tobacco use and unhealthy diets.

The other States with high annual cancer diagnoses include New Jersey (483.1), Pennsylvania (483), Rhode Island (479.4), New Hampshire (479.2), Louisiana (476.3), Connecticut (474.2), and West Virginia (464).

Most Common Types of Cancer

The most common types of cancer throughout the country include breast, lung, prostate, colon, bladder, and skin. Additionally, rates of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, thyroid, kidney, leukemia, endometrial, and pancreatic cancers are expected to rise in 2016. Many of these are preventable with early detection.

Treatment Options

Cancer treatment options in the US include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, hormone therapy, stem cell transplant, and precision medicine. The treatment module chosen depends on the kind of cancer and its level of advance. Scientists are currently working on immunotherapy, a treatment that will retrain immune systems to fight cancer cells. It involves removing white blood cells and genetically modifying them with a new targeting method. So far this has only been used with leukemia patients and has yet to be fully developed.

U.S. States With The Highest Cancer Rates

RankStatesIncidence of All Cancers Combined per 100,000 Residents
1Kentucky511.7
2Delaware502.0
3New York484.3
4New Jersey483.1
5Pennsylvania483.0
6Rhode Island479.4
7New Hampshire479.2
8Louisiana476.3
9Connecticut474.2
10West Virginia464.0

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