Where in America is a Women Most Likely to Be Diagnosed with Cancer?

Kentucky, Washington, Oklahoma and Vermont have among the highest rates of cancer in the nation.

Kentucky women hold the unenviable distinction of having the nation’s highest rates of two cancers: lung and colorectal. Washington is not much better, with the highest number of ovarian cancers and the fifth highest number of breast cancers. Oklahoma has the worst cervical cancer rate and Vermont women have the most skin cancer cases.

But in Utah and New Mexico, cancer rates are lower than the rest of the country. Utah has the nation’s lowest rate of lung and colorectal cancer, the second lowest cervical cancer rate and the fifth lowest ovarian cancer rate. In New Mexico, rates of colon, breast, skin and lung cancer all fall among the 10 lowest.

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of women, followed by breast, colorectal, pancreatic and ovarian cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Getting screened can help save lives. In Massachusetts, for example, women have the highest breast cancer rate in the country. But that doesn’t translate to the worst breast cancer death rate (Alaska holds that distinction). That’s likely because Massachusetts boasts the nation’s best mammogram rate.

Here’s how the states rank for each cancer, from lowest rate to highest. All rates are per 100,000 women. Numbers for Wisconsin were not available.

Breast Cancer

Rank State Per 100,000 Women
1 Arkansas 101.9
2 West Virginia 102.3
3 Arizona 110.2
4 New Mexico 111.6
5 Texas 112.5
6 Utah 113.1
7 Nevada 113.2
8 Indiana 114
9 Michigan 114.5
10 Wyoming 114.7
11 Louisiana 115.3
12 Florida 115.6
13 Mississippi 117.7
13 Ohio 117.7
15 Montana 118.3
16 Idaho 118.6
17 North Dakota 118.7
18 South Carolina 118.8
19 Tennessee 119.3
20 Wisconsin 119.7
21 Kentucky 120.1
22 Georgia 120.9
23 South Dakota 121
24 Iowa 121.3
24 Kansas 121.3
26 Alabama 121.4
27 North Carolina 122.7
28 Colorado 124
29 Illinois 124.3
30 Missouri 124.4
31 Vermont 124.7
32 Maine 124.8
33 Virginia 124.9
34 Oklahoma 125
35 California 125.1
36 New York 125.8
37 Oregon 126.7
38 Minnesota 127.3
39 Delaware 127.8
40 Pennsylvania 127.9
41 Hawaii 128.5
42 Nebraska 128.7
43 New Jersey 129.8
44 Maryland 130.3
45 Alaska 131.9
46 Washington 132.4
47 New Hampshire 133.5
48 Rhode Island 136.3
49 Connecticut 136.5
50 Massachusetts 139.5

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, 2008

Cervical Cancer

Rank State Per 100,000 Women
1 Vermont 4.7
2 Utah 4.8
2 Idaho 4.8
4 New Hampshire 5.1
5 Massachusetts 5.5
6 Colorado 6
7 Connecticut 6.2
7 Virginia 6.2
9 Rhode Island 6.3
10 Maine 6.4
11 Minnesota 6.5
12 Maryland 6.6
12 Arizona 6.6
14 South Dakota 6.8
15 Iowa 6.9
15 North Carolina 6.9
17 New Mexico 7
18 Michigan 7.1
19 Kansas 7.2
19 Montana 7.2
21 Nevada 7.3
22 Indiana 7.4
22 Oregon 7.4
24 Ohio 7.6
24 Washington 7.6
26 California 7.8
27 North Dakota 8
27 New York 8
29 Illinois 8.1
29 Pennsylvania 8.1
31 Georgia 8.2
32 Nebraska 8.4
32 Missouri 8.4
34 New Jersey 8.6
34 Wyoming 8.6
34 Louisiana 8.6
37 Mississippi 8.7
38 Delaware 8.9
39 Alabama 9
39 Kentucky 9
41 Tennessee 9.2
42 Texas 9.4
43 Florida 9.5
43 South Carolina 9.5
45 Hawaii 9.6
46 Alaska 9.9
46 Arkansas 9.9
48 West Virginia 10.1
49 Oklahoma 10.9
50 Wisconsin No statistical data

Source: National Cancer Institute, 2009

Colorectal Cancer

Rank State Per 100,000 Women
1 Utah 29.6
2 New Mexico 30.8
3 Arizona 31
4 Colorado 31.9
5 South Carolina 32.2
6 Idaho 33
7 Montana 33.6
8 Arkansas 33.8
9 Nevada 33.9
10 Vermont 34.4
11 Maryland 34.5
11 Texas 34.5
13 New Hampshire 34.6
13 Virginia 34.6
15 Florida 34.7
16 North Carolina 35.3
17 Delaware 35.7
18 Rhode Island 35.9
19 California 36
20 Kansas 36.2
21 Wyoming 36.5
22 Massachusetts 36.6
22 Oregon 36.6
24 Georgia 37.1
25 Michigan 37.3
26 Ohio 37.5
26 Tennessee 37.5
28 Washington 37.6
29 Missouri 37.8
30 Minnesota 38
31 South Dakota 38.4
32 New York 38.5
33 Connecticut 38.7
34 Alabama 38.9
35 New Jersey 39
36 Hawaii 39.7
37 Indiana 39.8
38 Alaska 40.1
38 Illinois 40.1
40 Oklahoma 40.3
41 North Dakota 40.5
41 West Virginia 40.5
43 Pennsylvania 40.6
44 Maine 40.7
44 Nebraska 40.7
46 Louisiana 41.5
47 Iowa 42
48 Mississippi 43.4
49 Kentucky 47.2
50 Wisconsin No statistical data available

Source: National Cancer Institute, 2009

Lung Cancer

Rank State Per 100,000 Women
1 Utah 22.2
2 New Mexico 38.5
3 Hawaii 40.6
4 Idaho 42.8
5 Wyoming 43.5
6 Colorado 43.7
7 California 44.3
8 South Dakota 45.5
9 Nebraska 46.6
10 Texas 46.8
11 Arizona 48.3
12 North Dakota 48.5
13 Minnesota 50.2
14 South Carolina 50.8
15 Maryland 51.8
16 Georgia 53.1
17 New Jersey 53.7
18 New York 53.9
19 Virginia 54.4
20 Alabama 54.8
21 Alaska 54.9
22 Washington 55
23 Montana 55.5
24 Iowa 55.6
24 Arkansas 55.6
26 Louisiana 56
27 Mississippi 56.1
28 Oregon 56.2
29 Florida 56.6
30 North Carolina 56.7
31 Kansas 56.8
32 Michigan 57
33 Pennsylvania 57.5
34 Ohio 58.5
35 Oklahoma 59.1
36 Delaware 60.3
36 New Hampshire 60.3
38 Connecticut 60.5
39 Illinois 60.8
40 Massachusetts 61.2
41 Tennessee 61.7
42 Indiana 62.1
43 Nevada 62.4
44 Missouri 63.4
45 Rhode Island 65.5
46 West Virginia 65.6
47 Vermont 65.7
48 Maine 68.9
49 Kentucky 78.7
50 Wisconsin No statistical data

Source: National Cancer Institute, 2009

Ovarian Cancer

Rank State Per 100,000 Women
1 South Carolina 9.1
1 Arkansas 9.1
3 Alaska 9.5
4 South Dakota 9.7
5 Utah 9.8
5 Missouri 9.8
7 Nebraska 9.9
8 Nevada 10
9 Mississippi 10.2
10 Louisiana 10.3
11 Oklahoma 10.5
11 New Mexico 10.5
11 North Dakota 10.5
14 Maine 10.8
15 Kentucky 10.9
15 Idaho 10.9
17 Vermont 11
18 New Hampshire 11.2
18 Arizona 11.2
19 West Virginia 11.2
21 Texas 11.3
22 Hawaii 11.4
22 Maryland 11.4
22 Florida 11.4
25 Delaware 11.6
26 Minnesota 11.8
26 Indiana 11.8
28 Illinois 11.9
28 Tennessee 11.9
28 Rhode Island 11.9
28 Wyoming 11.9
32 Montana 12.1
32 Ohio 12.1
32 Michigan 12.1
35 Alabama 12.2
35 California 12.2
35 Oregon 12.2
35 Georgia 12.2
39 Colorado 12.3
40 North Carolina 12.4
40 Virginia 12.4
42 Massachusetts 12.5
42 New Jersey 12.5
44 Connecticut 12.6
45 New York 12.7
45 Iowa 12.7
47 Pennsylvania 13.1
47 Kansas 13.1
49 Washington 13.3
50 Wisconsin No statistical data

Source: National Cancer Institute, 2009

Skin Cancer (Melanoma)

Rank State Per 100,000 Women
1 Alaska 9.1
2 Texas 9.9
3 Arizona 11.9
4 Louisiana 12.4
5 Arkansas 12.7
6 South Dakota 12.9
7 New Mexico 13.3
8 Mississippi 13.4
9 Florida 13.5
10 Illinois 13.6
11 Nevada 13.7
12 Virginia 13.9
12 New York 13.9
14 Oklahoma 14.1
15 Indiana 14.2
16 Missouri 14.9
16 Wyoming 14.9
18 California 15.5
19 Maryland 15.6
20 Georgia 15.9
20 Hawaii 15.9
22 Nebraska 16
23 New Jersey 16.3
24 Pennsylvania 16.8
25 Alabama 17.1
26 Michigan 17.2
27 Colorado 17.5
28 Ohio 17.6
28 South Carolina 17.6
30 Massachusetts 18.1
31 Rhode Island 18.2
32 Kansas 18.3
33 Tennessee 18.4
34 Kentucky 18.6
35 Maine 18.9
36 Connecticut 19
37 West Virginia 19.3
38 North Carolina 19.4
39 Montana 19.8
40 New Hampshire 20.2
41 Iowa 20.9
42 Washington 21.7
43 Oregon 21.9
44 North Dakota 22.2
45 Idaho 22.4
46 Delaware 22.8
47 Utah 23.6
48 Minnesota 24.6
49 Vermont 27.6
50 Wisconsin No statistical data

Source: National Cancer Institute, 2009

See the State of Women methodology and sources.

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