Notes regarding the use of the mortality mapping tool
On this page:
This application allows you to generate one map at a time, based on a set of variables described below.
The mortality rates generated on this web site utilize mortality data obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics and population estimates from the Census Bureau. Rates per 100,000 person-years, directly age-adjusted using the standard population that you select (see details below), are calculated by geographic unit, race and sex for over 40 forms of cancer. For more detailed information, please review the Materials and Methods section of The Atlas of Cancer Mortality in the U.S.: 1950-1994. Note: The Atlas used the 1970 U.S. standard, and the current website default is the 2000 U.S. standard; rates based on different standards should not be compared.
Furthermore, the Atlas used population estimates for 1991-94 that were projected forward based on the 1990 census. When the 2000 census data became available, new intercensal estimates for 1991-99 were computed, and these are used in the current website. The population estimates for 2001-04 are projections and will probably be revised when the 2010 census data become available.
You must make a selection for each of the 10 variables prior to generating a map. The variables and available choices are described below:
Geographic unit (3 choices)
- State (default): 50 + District of Columbia. Note that Alaska and Hawaii will not be included for years during which they were not states.
- SEA (state economic area): 508 (506 + Alaska & Hawaii, which are treated as SEAs for mapping purposes).
- County: 3,056 (3,054 + Alaska & Hawaii, which are treated as counties for mapping purposes).
Year range (multiple choices)
- From (default = 1970): available choices range from 1950 to 2000 in intervals of 5.
- To (default = 2004): available choices range from 1954 to 2004 in intervals of 5. Note that a “To” value that is lower than a “From” value will not be accepted.
Cancer (56 choices)
Cancers are arranged alphabetically with the exception of “Other and unspecified sites”, which is listed last. Some cancers are listed as a group – individual components of the group are sometimes available.
Race group (7 choices)
- White only (default): available for all years.
- Non-white only: available for all years.
- White and non-white combined (i.e., total): available for all years.
- Black: available from 1970 onward.
- Other (Non-White and Non-Black): available from 1970 onward.
- White and Black: available from 1970 onward.
- White and other: available from 1970 onward.
Sex group (3 choices)
- Male only (default)
- Female only
- Both combined
Age range (multiple choices)
- From (default = 0): lower bound of age range. Available choices range from 0 to 85 in intervals of 5.
- To (default = +, which is equivalent to the phrase “and above). Thus, the default range is 0+, which is equivalent to 0 and above, i.e., all ages. Available choices range from 4 to 89 in intervals of 5. Note that a “To” value that is lower than a “From” value will not be accepted.
Standard population for age-adjustment (7 choices)
- US 2000 (default): available choices of U.S. population are 1990, 1980, 1970, 1960, and 1950.
- See note above
Interval type (2 choices)
- Equal intervals (default): this choice will result in an equal (or close to equal) distribution of geographic units. For example, choosing 4 intervals for a SEA map will result in 127 SEAs in each interval. The rates in the legend are arranged from highest on top to lowest on the bottom. Note that geographic units with sparse data are subtracted from the total number of units prior to distribution among the intervals. “Sparse” is defined in the “Materials and Methods” section referenced above.
- User-defined intervals: you can select the percentage of units and the number of intervals, as long as the total adds up to 100%. For example, you may choose 3 intervals, the first containing the highest 5% of units, the second containing the next 90% of units, and the third containing the lowest 5% of units.
The displayed range of mortality rates in an interval is followed by (xx;yy.y%), where xx is the number of geographic units in the interval and yy.y% is the percentage of geographic units with non-sparse data that are included in the interval.
Number of intervals (9 choices)
Default is 10 with the 8 remaining choices ranging from 9 to 2.
Color scheme (2 choices)
- Sequential (default): with this color scheme, geographic units with the highest rates are displayed in dark red with the shade of red lightening as rates decrease. Geographic units with the lowest rates are displayed in white. Geographic units with rates based on a sparse number of observations are displayed using a black hatching pattern on a white background.
- Diverging: with this color scheme, geographic units with the highest rates are displayed in dark red with the shade of red lightening as rates decrease toward the 50% level. Geographic units with the lowest rates are displayed in dark blue with the shade of blue lightening as rates increase toward the 50% level. Note that for an even number of intervals, the geographic units contained in half of the intervals with the highest rates will be various shades of red, while the geographic units contained in half of the intervals with lowest rates will be various shades of blue. For an odd number of intervals, geographic units in the middle intervals will be displayed in white. Geographic units with rates based on a sparse number of observations are displayed in gray.
A link “Download data for this map” will appear above the dynamically-generated map. This link leads to an Excel file that contains all the data that went into creating the map. Note: Once a new map is generated, the data for the previous map are gone!
A description of the Excel file content follows:
- Geographic code (Files containing the geographic codes and names can be downloaded from here)
- Total US is always "99999"
- County: 5-digit county FIPS code with leading zeros omitted
- SEA (state economic area): 3-digit SEA FIPS code with leading zeros omitted
- State: 2-digit state FIPS code with leading zeros omitted
- Year: time period selected
- Race: race selected
- Sex: sex selected
- Age group: age group selected
- Person-years: total person-years for the geographic unit, years, race, sex, and age group.
- Mortality rate: mortality rate age-adjusted to the selected population per 100,000 person years
- No. of deaths: number of deaths for the geographic unit, years, race, sex, and age group
- Rate lower bound: lower bound of the 95% confidence interval
- Rate upper bound: upper bound of the 95% confidence interval
- Expected no. of deaths: number of expected deaths for the selected time years, race, sex, and age group, based on the corresponding national rate.
Sparse content indicator: 1 = sparse data, 0 = sufficient number of deaths to calculate a rate (see Atlas Materials and Methods)