May 9, 2023 - Health

Mapped: Cancer by congressional district

Change in cancer death rates by congressional district
Data: American Cancer Society; Note: Death rate is computed as the average of the male and female rates; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Cancer deaths are on the decline in every congressional district, typically between 20% and 45% among males and a 10% and 40% among females, over the past quarter century, according to a study published today in the journal Cancer.

  • But health disparities remain.

Details: Researchers used county-level cancer death counts and population data from the National Center for Health Statistics at common causes of cancer death dating back to 1996.

By the numbers: Lung cancer saw the biggest drops among men, declining between 21%–72% since 1996. Districts located in the Midwest and South which generally have weaker tobacco control policies saw the smallest declines, the authors noted.

  • Female breast cancer deaths dropped between 14% and 58% depending on the district. Prostate cancer deaths dropped between 25% and 68% depending on the district.

Yes, but: The study found "substantial" disparities. For instance, the decline of cancer deaths was steepest among Black men, but overall cancer mortality is substantially higher among Black people.

What they're saying: "While the overall declines in cancer death rates show progress against cancer, the study shows how critical public policy interventions are to reduce persistent disparities nationwide," said Lisa Lacasse, president of American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

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