Mar 3, 2023 - News

Iowa's estimated cancer rate is second in U.S. only to Kentucky

Abstract cancer ribbon surrounded by shapes and lines.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new report from the Iowa Cancer Registry shows the state is projected to have the second-highest incidence rate of cancer cases in the country this year.

Driving the news: The report, maintained by the University of Iowa, shows that Iowa is second only to Kentucky.

  • An estimated 20,800 new invasive cancers will be diagnosed among Iowans in 2023, according to the report.

Why it matters: While it's not clear why Iowa's cancer rates are higher than the majority of the country's, it could be attributed to the state's high alcohol use and sedentary lifestyle, Iowa Cancer Registry Director Dr. Mary Charlton told KCRG.

By the numbers: 2,710 new cases are expected to be diagnosed this year in Polk County.

  • Breast cancer is estimated to be the most prevalent cancer diagnosis in 2023, affecting around 2,920 people.
  • Around 6,200 Iowans are estimated to die from cancer this year. The most fatal form is expected to be lung cancer.

Between the lines: Around 1973, the Iowa Cancer Registry recorded 10,140 new cancer patients annually. That's doubled now to 20,000, which can be attributed to the state's aging population, as well as improved screening.

  • Iowans are also surviving cancer at higher rates, as five-year survival rates grew from 47% in 1973 to 67% today.
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