Health Index Priority: Decrease Cancer Deaths

MaineHealth aims to provide access to the best cancer care, at the right place and at the right time, as close to home as possible, while also helping decrease cancer incidence by reducing tobacco use and obesity.

Why does MaineHealth focus on decreasing cancer deaths?

  • Cancer is the number one cause of premature mortality in the MaineHealth service area.
  • The age-adjusted rate of cancer deaths in MaineHealth service area was 10% above the U.S. rate in 2015.
  • In the last decade, over 25,000 people within the MaineHealth service area have died from cancer.
  • About 60% of all cancer deaths are related to the risk factors of smoking and obesity.

Data and measures

The Health Index Initiative tracks and monitors a variety of data sources to measure progress being made to decrease cancer deaths.

Incidence of Cancer


Although overall cancer incidence is decreasing for most types of cancer, the Maine cancer incidence rates are higher than those in the US overall.

Cancer Deaths


Although the age adjusted rate of cancer deaths in the MaineHealth service area is decreasing, the rate of 172.0/100,000 is well above the US rate of 161.0/100,000. Cancer remains the number one cause of premature (before age 70) mortality in Maine; over 3,000 Maine people died from cancer in 2015.

Taking action: Screening more patients for colorectal cancer

MHACO Colon Cancer ScreeningWe support a variety of clinical, community and policy actions to help decrease cancer deaths throughout the MaineHealth service area. Cancer screening can help detect and treat cancer earlier and increase survivorship; therefore, one of our clinical strategies focuses on increasing colorectal cancer screening rates.


In both men and women, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of death. To continue making progress in reducing colorectal cancer incidence and mortality, 292 practices within the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization are working to continue increasing colorectal cancer screening rates among their 50- to 75-year-old patients. 


As a result of these efforts, the percentage of patients who have had appropriate screening for colorectal cancer rose from 62% as of September 2015 to 65% as of December 2016.




Interactive maps with county-level data

Looking for more cancer data? Visit the Health Index website to find data on cancer incidence, cancer deaths and cancer screening rates in Maine and Carroll County, New Hampshire.

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