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Disparities in cancer mortality by county-level income have increased. It is unclear whether these widening disparities have affected older and younger adults equally. National death certificate data were utilized to ascertain cancer deaths during 1999-2015. Average annual percent changes in mortality rates and mortality rate ratios (RRs) were estimated by county-level income quintile and age (25-64 vs ≥65 years). Among 25- to 64-year-olds, cancer mortality rates were 30% higher (RR = 1.30, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.29 to 1.31) in the lowest-vs the highest-income counties in 1999-2001 and 56% higher (RR = 1.56, 95% CI = 1.55 to 1.57) in 2013-2015; the disparities among those 65 years and older were smaller but also widened over time (RR1999-2001 = 1.04, 95% CI = 1.03 to 1.05; RR2013-2015 = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.13 to 1.14). Widening disparities occurred across cancer sites. If all counties had the mortality rates of the highest-income counties, 21.5% of cancer deaths among 25- to 64-year-olds and 7.3% of cancer deaths in those 65 years and older would have been avoided in 2015. These results highlight an ongoing need for equity-focused interventions, particularly among younger adults.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Publication Date





863 - 866


See the Notes section for the full list of authors' affiliations.


Humans, Neoplasms, Death Certificates, Cause of Death, Socioeconomic Factors, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Income, United States, Female, Male