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Reducing the Burden of Cancer in North Carolina: A Data and Resource Guide

State: North Carolina

Submitted Date: 2019

Public Health Issue
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death in North Carolina, with more than 21,000 North Carolinians expected to die from cancer in 2018 alone.


  • Moreover, cancer imposes its burden across North Carolina inequitably along racial, ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomical lines. For example, the mortality rate for breast cancer among African-American women is 47% higher than that of white women, despite having a similar incidence rate.


  • With 100 individual counties in North Carolina, making decisions on where and how to allocate resources to make the most impact in fighting cancer can be difficult. 
Program Action
  • The North Carolina Cancer Prevention and Control Branch (CPCB), with a host of state partners, collaborated to release “Reducing the Burden of Cancer in North Carolina: A Data and Resource Guide for Communities to Fight Cancer” (NC Cancer Burden Document) in November 2017. It serves as a companion document to the 2014-2020 North Carolina Cancer Control Plan, providing a mid-plan update on North Carolina’s six priority cancers: lung, colorectal, female breast, prostate, melanoma, and cervical cancers. It provides data-informed recommendations on where interventions should be targeted.


  • Relying heavily on data visualization, the document highlights where the priority cancers are concentrated the highest in North Carolina, what demographic groups are most affected by them, and what state and local partners can do to help fight cancer in their communities.


  • Additionally, the document equips partners with easy-to-follow steps for how to use the document, highlighting key steps partners can take to: guide intervention planning, increase awareness, make community clinical linkages for cancer resources and support services, and to advocate for policy, environmental and systematic changes for cancer prevention and control.
  • The NC Cancer Burden Document and the NC Cancer Control Plan have equipped partners to take action toward cancer prevention and control. Partners are identifying opportunities to use the document’s data and foundational resources as a blueprint to expand collaborative partnerships, and to guide their efforts with strategies and evidence-based interventions to increase their impact on the burden of cancer.


  • The document has received national recognition. In 2018, it was listed in the American Library Association’s annual journal in its Notable Governmental Documents section.


  • The University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is utilizing the document to help cancer centers across the state complete cancer needs assessments as part of the implementation of their patient navigation model for oncology nurses.


  • The CPCB currently is evaluating further impact by surveying recipients of the document on usage strategies. The document already is being used by organizations, local health departments, and providers to incorporate county/regional data into community health assessments, develop programs utilizing recommended evidence-based interventions, and to seek grant funding to strengthen prevention, early detection, and treatment services. 
Ryan Ward
NC Cancer and Prevention Control Branch