Interpreting the Data

Incidence Data

Each year when U.S. Cancer Statistics data are released, we update data products with the most recent data submission. Users of cancer incidence data published by federal agencies should be mindful of the data submission dates for all data used in their analyses.

Mortality Data

Cancer mortality statistics in the U.S. Cancer Statistics Data Visualizations tool are influenced by the accuracy of information on the death certificate.

Race and Ethnicity in Cancer Data

In cancer incidence, race and ethnicity information is abstracted from medical records and grouped into categories. When reporting cancer mortality, race and Hispanic origin are recorded separately on the death certificate by the funeral director as provided by an informant or, in the absence of an informant, on the basis of observation.

Guidance for Comparing States’ Cancer Data

Careful consideration is needed in interpreting and comparing rankings of state cancer rates. A natural reaction of some readers is to seek explanations as to why their state has higher incidence or death rates for some cancers than other states or than the national average. For example, some may be alarmed that exposure to environmental carcinogens may be responsible when in fact there are several other more likely explanations.