Reports

Improving Cancer Tracking Today Saves Lives Tomorrow: Do States Make the Grade?

September 2003

More than 30 years after the launch of the War on Cancer, the disease remains the top health concern of Americans. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, cancer is still responsible for one of every four deaths in the U.S. Cancer illness and deaths annually cost the nation more than $180 billion in health care spending and lost productivity. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates, however, that one-third of cancer deaths could be prevented.

Information is the most vital tool for finding ways to more effectively treat and prevent the disease. Health agencies in each state are responsible for compiling information about the rates of cancer to study patterns and trends. These “cancer tracking” efforts are essential to help find cures, improve treatments and develop strong public health initiatives aimed at reducing cancer rates.

This report examines how well state health agencies are doing in their efforts to track, control and prevent cancer, and awards grades on a state-by-state basis. It concludes that states are missing key, important opportunities to reduce cancer rates.

According to the report findings, most states perform very well at maintaining high quality data about cancer rates. However, findings also revealed cancer control and prevention could be greatly enhanced if increased efforts were made to connect cancer tracking information and other sources of health information on a routine and systematized basis. Additionally, the survey revealed a gap in the ability of states to answer the public's questions about disparities in cancer rates among different ethnic groups and communities.

Trust for America's Health (TFAH) offers specific recommendations for how cancer tracking could be improved to increase prevention efforts and reduce the burden of cancer on families, communities and the nation.

Cancer Grades

A B C D F N/A
California
Colorado
Idaho
Illinois
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Missouri
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Washington
Wyoming
Alaska
Arkansas
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Indiana
Kansas
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
Oklahoma
Rhode Island
Texas
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Alabama
Montana
Virginia
Maine
North Dakota
Tennessee
Mississippi Arizona
Connecticut
Hawaii
Iowa
Kentucky
Louisiana
Minnesota
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
South Carolina
South Dakota
Utah
Vermont

Executive Summary (172k pdf)

Complete Report (440k pdf)

Press Release: Study Finds States Miss Key Opportunities to Reduce Cancer Rates (9.24.03)

Capitol Hill Cancer Briefing Presentations

Dr. Shelley Hearne, Executive Director of Trust for America's Health

Dr. James Marks, Director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC

Dr. Ben Hankey, Chief, Cancer Statistics Branch, Surveillance Research Program, Division of Cancer Control & Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute