What Are the Most Recently Available Cancer Data?

Hospitals, physicians, pathology laboratories, and radiation therapy facilities are required to send information on newly diagnosed cases of cancer in Massachusetts to the Massachusetts Cancer Registry (MCR). To assure accuracy, multiple quality control activities are performed. Data are generally released 2-3 years after they are received. It may be even longer before Massachusetts data on cancer cases by city and town are released. Other cancer data, such as cancer deaths, may be available sooner.

What Should I know When Interpreting Cancer Data??

When examining the data, keep in mind:

  • Cancer is a general name for a variety of diseases with different causes and associated factors.
  • It can take many years from the time people are exposed to cancer-causing agents until the time they develop cancer.
  • Cancer rates may be different between geographic areas because of variations in racial/ethnic populations, screening rates for cancer, health behaviors (such as use of tobacco, eating habits, or levels of physical activity), or simply due to chance.
  • Rates based on a small number of cases or deaths should be interpreted cautiously.
  • Just because something is statistically significant does not necessarily mean there is a problem.

New Cancer Cases

  • In Massachusetts, from 2005 through 2009, there were 184,339 newly diagnosed cases of cancer, for an average annual age-adjusted incidence rate of 513.0 cases per 100,000 persons.
  • Overall, cancer incidence in Massachusetts slightly decreased from 2005 to 2009.
  • The most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in Massachusetts men for this time period was prostate cancer, followed by cancers of the bronchus and lung, colon/rectum, and urinary bladder.
  • Among Massachusetts women, the most commonly diagnosed cancer types were cancers of the breast, bronchus and lung, colon/rectum, and corpus uteri (uterus).

Percentage of Cancer Incident Cases by Cancer Type and Sex
Massachusetts, 2005-2009

image of chart showing cancer incidence among malesimage of chart showing cancer incidence among females

Source: Massachusetts Cancer Registry

Cancer Deaths

  • From 2001 to 2005, there were 67,638 deaths from cancer among Massachusetts residents, for an average annual age-adjusted mortality rate of 192.7 deaths per 100,000 persons.
  • Cancer mortality in Massachusetts decreased from 2001 to 2005.
  • Cancer of the bronchus and lung was the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women between 2001 and 2005. Prostate cancer and breast cancer ranked second in mortality for Massachusetts men and women, respectively. The third most common type of cancer death in Massachusetts men and women for 2001-2005 was cancer of the colon/rectum.

Percentage of Cancer Deaths by Cancer Type and Sex
Massachusetts, 2005-2009

image of chart showing cancer deaths among malesimage of chart showing cancer deaths among females

Source: Massachusetts Cancer Registry

Additional Cancer Statistics

You can find statistics for specific cancers at cancer info on specific types of cancer.

Massachusetts Community Health Information Profile (MassCHIP) ( masschip.state.ma.us) provides free online access to health and social indicators for cities and towns in Massachusetts . The database contains information that may be helpful in health planning for specific communities (for example, the percent of current smokers in a city or town). You can create Custom Reports with MassCHIP, or you can obtain information about a specific topic through Instant Topics. Click on the affiliation then find the appropriate cancer type for the instant topics.

Also see statistical publications related to cancer.


This information is provided by the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Program and the Department of Public Health.