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Invasive cancer incidence, 2004–2013, and deaths, 2006–2015, in nonmetropolitan and metropolitan counties — United States
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  • Description:
    Problem/Condition: Previous reports have shown that persons living in nonmetropolitan (rural or urban) areas in the United States have higher death rates from all cancers combined than persons living in metropolitan areas. Disparities might vary by cancer type and between occurrence and death from the disease. This report provides a comprehensive assessment of cancer incidence and deaths by cancer type in nonmetropolitan and metropolitan counties.

    Reporting Period: 2004–2015.

    Description of System: Cancer incidence data from CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program were used to calculate average annual age-adjusted incidence rates for 2009–2013 and trends in annual age-adjusted incidence rates for 2004–2013. Cancer mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System were used to calculate average annual age-adjusted death rates for 2011–2015 and trends in annual age-adjusted death rates for 2006–2015. For 5-year average annual rates, counties were classified into four categories (nonmetropolitan rural, nonmetropolitan urban, metropolitan with population <1 million, and metropolitan with population ≥1 million). For the trend analysis, which used annual rates, these categories were combined into two categories (nonmetropolitan and metropolitan). Rates by county classification were examined by sex, age, race/ethnicity, U.S. census region, and cancer site. Trends in rates were examined by county classification and cancer site.

    Results: During the most recent 5-year period for which data were available, nonmetropolitan rural areas had lower average annual age-adjusted cancer incidence rates for all anatomic cancer sites combined but higher death rates than metropolitan areas. During 2006–2015, the annual age-adjusted death rates for all cancer sites combined decreased at a slower pace in nonmetropolitan areas (-1.0% per year) than in metropolitan areas (-1.6% per year), increasing the differences in these rates. In contrast, annual age-adjusted incidence rates for all cancer sites combined decreased approximately 1% per year during 2004–2013 both in nonmetropolitan and metropolitan counties.

    Interpretation: This report provides the first comprehensive description of cancer incidence and mortality in nonmetropolitan and metropolitan counties in the United States. Nonmetropolitan rural counties had higher incidence of and deaths from several cancers related to tobacco use and cancers that can be prevented by screening. Differences between nonmetropolitan and metropolitan counties in cancer incidence might reflect differences in risk factors such as cigarette smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, whereas differences in cancer death rates might reflect disparities in access to health care and timely diagnosis and treatment.

    Public Health Action: Many cancer cases and deaths could be prevented, and public health programs can use evidence-based strategies from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) to support cancer prevention and control. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends population-based screening for colorectal, female breast, and cervical cancers among adults at average risk for these cancers and for lung cancer among adults at high risk; screening adults for tobacco use and excessive alcohol use, offering counseling and interventions as needed; and using low-dose aspirin to prevent colorectal cancer among adults considered to be at high risk for cardiovascular disease based on specific criteria. ACIP recommends vaccination against cancer-related infectious diseases including human papillomavirus and hepatitis B virus. The Guide to Community Preventive Services describes program and policy interventions proven to increase cancer screening and vaccination rates and to prevent tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, obesity, and physical inactivity.

    Suggested citation for this article: Henley SJ, Anderson RN, Thomas CC, Massetti GM, Peaker B, Richardson LC. Invasive Cancer Incidence, 2004–2013, and Deaths, 2006–2015, in Nonmetropolitan and Metropolitan Counties — United States. MMWR Surveill Summ 2017;66(No. SS-14):1–13. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6614a1.

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