Interactive Map: Cancer Across New Jersey

Cancer rates are lower in urban counties, while higher rates in southern counties blamed on smoking

The age-adjusted cancer incidence rater per 1,000 population for 2009. Click on a county to see more detailed cancer statistics.

Source: NJ Department of Health

Contrary to what might seem to be conventional wisdom, New Jersey’s most urban counties in the north have the lowest adjusted cancer rates, while its wealthiest suburbs have among the highest, state data shows.

But at least part of that finding could be the result of better diagnoses of certain kinds of cancer due to higher health insurance rates in counties like Hunterdon, Morris, and Somerset. While it had a high incidence rate, Hunterdon’s age-adjusted cancer mortality rate was lowest in the state, at 1.5 deaths per 1,000 people, again, at least partly due to residents having access to good healthcare. That compares with the highest mortality rate — 2.1 per 1,000 — in the southern counties of Cape May, Salem, and Cumberland.

In a report issued this week, the American Cancer Society blamed at least part of the higher incidence of cancer in South Jersey to a higher prevalence of smoking.

“Our analysis shows a ‘tale of two states,’” said Blair Horner, vice-president for advocacy of the ACS of New York and New Jersey. “Generally speaking, men in downstate counties are more likely to have higher than average lung cancer rates — the largest cancer killer. We also know that downstaters also tend to have higher smoking rates than those living upstate.”

The report, The Cancer Burden in New Jersey, looked at data from the state’s cancer registry and in particular for the most common cancers contracted by residents in the state — lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal. It calls for greater emphasis by state officials on anti-smoking efforts because tobacco usage can cause 16 different types of malignancies.
“Smoking accounts for at least 30 percent of cancer deaths,” said Ethan Hasbrouck, the society’s New Jersey advocacy director.

In 2008, the most recent year for which statistics were available, the average cancer mortality rate adjusted for age in the state was about 1.9 per 1,000 people, according to state data. That rate is lower than in 1999, when it was 2.1.

The incidence rate for all cancers for 2009 was about 5.3 per 1,000. That’s also lower than the 1999 incidence rate of 5.6.

Breast cancer was the single most prevalent, with 8,951 cases reported statewide in 2009, followed by prostate cancer with 7,019 cases. There were 5,795 cases of lung cancer and 4,650 cases of colon or rectum cancer.

For more detailed cancer rates for each of the counties, click on a county.