Breast Cancer Awareness: 15 States With the Highest Rates of Diagnoses in America

There are over 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the country, according to the American Cancer Society. In 2017 alone, it’s estimated there will be over 250,000 new breast cancer diagnoses in women. And breast cancer does not discriminate. While a man’s risk for breast cancer is much lower — 1 in 1,000 — the American Cancer Society estimates over 2,400 cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men in 2017.

Doctors agree self-exams are one of the most proactive steps in identifying abnormalities. Still, breast cancer is the second most deadly cancer among women after lung cancer. And while a person may be predisposed to breast cancer through genetics, lifestyle and environment also play a role. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has crunched the numbers to find the states with the most breast cancer diagnoses. Is your home in one of them?

15. Minnesota

Minneapolis downtown skyline at sunset

Patients are less likely to die from breast cancer than in other states. | RudyBalasko/iStock/Getty Images Plus

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 130.9

As with many states in the country, the death rate associated with breast cancer in Minnesota has decreased. It’s believed this is due to more advanced treatments and early detection. Minnesota women are less likely to die from breast cancer than those in other states. About 17 out of 100,000 women will die from the disease, according to the CDC. Nationwide, the breast cancer death rate for women is 20.5 out of 100,000.

Next: This state is working to reduce cancer diagnoses and deaths.

14. Virginia

Richmond, Virginia, USA

Virginia has a higher death rate. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 131.1

Virginia is working to reduce breast cancer diagnoses and deaths. The death rate in the state is higher than many others in the country — 22.7 out of every 100,000 people, per the CDC. The Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation provides low-income or uninsured women with access to free mammograms and health screenings.

Next: Every insured woman in this state is entitled to 3D mammograms.

13. Pennsylvania

Welcome to Pennsylvania road sign

Pennsylvania has a pollution problem, which is hazardous to residents’ health. | benkrut/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 132

Major cities in Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Lancaster, are some of the most polluted in the entire country. The good news is the PA Breast Cancer Coalition is actively working to offset the health impact of some of that pollution. The state is also the first in the nation to require that free 3D mammograms be offered to insured women. The advanced technology of a 3D mammogram provides radiologists the ability to more thoroughly explore every layer of the breast tissue, enabling early detection.

Next: This state is expanding access to care. 

12. New York

car on wooded road

The death rate is relatively low. | John Moore/Getty Images

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 132.3

Although the death rate associated with female breast cancer is lower than other states at 19.2 per every 100,000, the governor of New York is taking critical steps to expand access to care. His action calls on health insurers to provide 3D mammograms without copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. Due to the fact that women of color usually have more dense breast tissue, the 3D mammograms enable the early detection needed to increase survival rates.

Next: Cancers of all types cost this Northeast state $933 million every year.

11. Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island

Cancer costs the state over $900 million per year. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 133.2

Nearly every family in Rhode Island has been impacted by cancer, whether it be extended relatives or close friends, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health. Furthermore, the state estimated back in 2008 cancer was costing it nearly $933 million per year. The state considers the cancer epidemic to be a very heavy burden.

Next: This Midwestern state has taken steps to identify cancer hot spots.

10. Illinois

Lake Forest, Illinois

Pollutants increase cancer diagnoses. | City of Lake Forest, Illinois Government via Facebook

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 133.5

As far back as 1986, Illinois was able to identify “hot spots” where cancer diagnoses were highest. Fast-forward to 2017, and Cook County remains one of the most polluted in the nation. Nearly 22 out of every 100,000 will die from breast cancer in 2017, according to the CDC. Unfortunately, access to mammograms for uninsured women is still not easy to find.

Next: This state’s Breast Cancer Research Fund is working to find a cure.

9. New Jersey

The skyline and Atlantic Ocean in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The state organized a research fund. | AppalachianViews/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 134.3

The Garden State has long had problems with breast cancer. Back in 1995, the residents and policy leaders of the state organized the New Jersey Breast Cancer Research Fund in hopes of more effectively working to research and treat the disease. Over 20 years later, the fund continues to accept donations in working toward prevention and a cure.

Next: The next state is focusing on early detection of breast cancer. 

8. Washington

Parachuting in Washington

Breast cancer diagnoses are higher than lung cancer. | Tim Matsui/Liaison

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 134.8

In contrast to much of the nation, breast cancer in women of Washington is 79% higher than lung cancer diagnoses. The state is taking these numbers seriously. Washington’s Department of Health founded the Washington CARES About Cancer Partnership. The purpose of the foundation is to create a network that encourages the fight to overcome cancer, along with advocating for everyone to receive the resources for early detection.

Next: This state has a low breast cancer mortality rate.

7. Vermont

Vermont scenery

The state has a relatively low mortality rate. | Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 135.9

The breast cancer mortality rate in Vermont is 18 out of 100,000, according to the CDC. That’s one of the lower rates in the nation. The Vermont Breast Cancer Surveillance System gathers data from across the country to figure out how breast cancer screenings can be improved.

Next: Mobile screenings bring health care to women in the next state on this list.

6. Delaware

Wilmington, Delaware, skyline along the Riverfront at night

A state group has a mobile screening van. | pabradyphoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 136.9

According to the CDC, breast cancer diagnoses have an average mortality rate of 21.1 out of every 100,000. The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition can bring screenings to you via its Women’s Health Screenings Van. It provides mammograms and cervical screenings right in the van if you are 40 years of age or older.

Next: Breast cancer rates are higher for one particular group of women in this island state.

5. Hawaii

Kalalau trail in Kauai, Hawaii

Native Hawaiian women are at a higher risk than other women. | maximkabb/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 138

This tropical paradise is not spared from the perils of breast cancer. Apparently, native Hawaiian women are at a higher risk for breast cancer diagnoses than other women living on the islands. But research initiatives to find out more about native women’s experience with the disease have often failed due to the cultural differences between the researchers and subjects. It’s possible the increase in breast cancer rates on the islands can be attributed to pesticides.

Next: This New England state has a law requiring doctors to inform patients about their breast tissue density.

4. Massachusetts

Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

The state is attempting to increase funding for testing. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 138.4

Similar to its neighbor, New York, the state of Massachusetts has pushed through legislation to require that medical staff inform patients if they find dense breast tissue. Once again, dense breast tissue makes it difficult to see whether a lump or mass exists in a 2D mammogram. Because of that, it’s important that patients are aware they need a 3D mammogram. This information is critical for patients seeking thorough and correct diagnoses.

Next: Our nation’s capital has a high rate of breast cancer diagnoses.

3. Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

It’s seeing higher diagnoses than other areas. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 139.6

Similar to its Maryland neighbor, the District of Columbia is seeing significantly higher breast cancer diagnoses than the rest of the country. Specifically, diagnoses in black women are increasing. The increase could stem from poor air quality in the area.

Next: Breast cancer diagnoses are high but mortality is relatively low in the next state on the list.

2. Connecticut

Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut

The mortality rate is lower than many states. | kosukeyuki/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 142

Second in line for the highest breast cancer diagnoses in the country is Connecticut. But despite the fact that the breast cancer rate is high, the state’s mortality rate for the disease is significantly lower than many states at 17.4, per the CDC. This figure conveys that the state is on top of its treatment game.

Next: Nearly 145 out of every 100,000 women get breast cancer in this state. 

1. New Hampshire

New Hampshire scenery

New Hampshire has the most diagnoses in the nation. | Darren McCollester/Getty Images

  • Rate of diagnoses per 100,000 people: 144.9

The Granite State tops the rankings for the most diagnoses of breast cancer in the nation. It’s speculated that the cause of this staggering number is due to the population being 94% white. Breast cancer is most prevalent in white women. The death rate is 21.1 out of every 100,000 people.

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