U.S. congressional district cancer death rates

Yongping Hao, Elizabeth M. Ward, Ahmedin Jemal, Linda W. Pickle, Michael J. Thun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Geographic patterns of cancer death rates in the U.S. have customarily been presented by county or aggregated into state economic or health service areas. Herein, we present the geographic patterns of cancer death rates in the U.S. by congressional district. Many congressional districts do not follow state or county boundaries. However, counties are the smallest geographical units for which death rates are available. Thus, a method based on the hierarchical relationship of census geographic units was developed to estimate age-adjusted death rates for congressional districts using data obtained at county level. These rates may be useful in communicating to legislators and policy makers about the cancer burden and potential impact of cancer control in their jurisdictions. Results: Mortality data were obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for 1990-2001 for 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all counties. We computed annual average age-adjusted death rates for all cancer sites combined, the four major cancers (lung and bronchus, prostate, female breast, and colorectal cancer) and cervical cancer. Cancer death rates varied widely across congressional districts for all cancer sites combined, for the four major cancers, and for cervical cancer. When examined at the national level, broad patterns of mortality by sex, race and region were generally similar with those previously observed based on county and state economic area. Conclusion: We developed a method to generate cancer death rates by congressional district using county-level mortality data. Characterizing the cancer burden by congressional district may be useful in promoting cancer control and prevention programs, and persuading legislators to enact new cancer control programs and/or strengthening existing ones. The method can be applied to state legislative districts and other analyses that involve data aggregation from different geographic units.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number28
JournalInternational Journal of Health Geographics
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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