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9 States with the Highest Colorectal Cancer Rates


March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, but despite efforts to raise awareness, millions of Americans go without regular screenings.

Colon Cancer Ribbon

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, but despite efforts to raise awareness, millions of Americans go without screening each year.

Colorectal Cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the US. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28% of US adults had never been screened for colorectal cancer, as of 2012. About two-thirds (65%) were up to date in their screenings, and another 7% had been screened but were not up to date.

Indeed, despite the prevalence of the cancer type, it hasn’t always been easy to get the public’s attention. Last year was the first time in 13 years that the colon cancer awareness groups were able to get a presidential declaration declaring the month as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

In this year’s proclamation, President Obama said screenings play a key role in combating the disease.

“Colorectal cancer is often preventable, and early detection and treatment are critical,” he said. “However, this disease does not always cause symptoms, and most colorectal cancer occurs in individuals with no family history. That is why it is crucial for people of all ages to discuss colorectal cancer with their health care providers and understand the recommendations for, and benefits of, screening.

What follows is a look at the states with the highest rates of colorectal cancer. The data below come from the CDC and are from 2011, the latest year for which state-level data are available. The states are ranked by overall incidence rate (per 100,000 people). Also included are the total number of incidences per state, the death rate per 100,000 people, and the total number of deaths. The rates are age-adjusted, and the below numbers include only in situ cancers. The databank only includes states and localities where sufficient data were available, but the data are believed to cover 99-100% of the US population, depending on the category.


Cases per 100,000 people: 51.3

Number of Incidences: 3,587

Deaths per 100,000 people: 19.1

Number of Deaths: 1,304

South Dakota

Cases per 100,000 people: 52.2

Number of Incidences: 230

Deaths per 100,000 people: 15.9

Number of Deaths: 68


Cases per 100,000 people: 53.9

Number of Incidences: 3,280

Deaths per 100,000 people: 18.3

Number of Deaths: 1,079


Cases per 100,000 people: 54.6

Number of Incidences: 892

Deaths per 100,000 people: 20.9

Number of Deaths: 336


Cases per 100,000 people: 55.9

Number of Incidences: 1,206

Deaths per 100,000 people: 22.2

Number of Deaths: 466


Cases per 100,000 people: 56.2

Number of Incidences: 428

Deaths per 100,000 people: 18.4

Number of Deaths: 138

West Virginia

Cases per 100,000 people: 57.0

Number of Incidences: 615

Deaths per 100,000 people: 24.3

Number of Deaths: 254


Cases per 100,000 people: 58.5

Number of Incidences: 842

Deaths per 100,000 people: 24.6

Number of Deaths: 332


Cases per 100,000 people: 58.8

Number of Incidences: 1,299

Deaths per 100,000 people: 20.7

Number of Deaths: 432

The CDC’s full data set is available here.

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