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PurposeTo inform prevention efforts, we sought to determine which cancer types contribute the most to cancer mortality disparities by individual-level education using national death certificate data for 2017.MethodsInformation on all US deaths occurring in 2017 among 25-84-year-olds was ascertained from national death certificate data, which include cause of death and educational attainment. Education was classified as high school or less (≤ 12 years), some college or diploma (13-15 years), and Bachelor's degree or higher (≥ 16 years). Cancer mortality rate differences (RD) were calculated by subtracting age-adjusted mortality rates (AMR) among those with ≥ 16 years of education from AMR among those with ≤ 12 years.ResultsThe cancer mortality rate difference between those with a Bachelor's degree or more vs. high school or less education was 72 deaths per 100,000 person-years. Lung cancer deaths account for over half (53%) of the RD for cancer mortality by education in the US.ConclusionEfforts to reduce smoking, particularly among persons with less education, would contribute substantially to reducing educational disparities in lung cancer and overall cancer mortality.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancer causes & control : CCC

Publication Date





1193 - 1196


Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD, USA.


Humans, Lung Neoplasms, Mortality, Adolescent, Educational Status