IOWA CITY, Iowa — This year the Iowa Cancer Registry turns 50 years old. Since it was founded, the rate of new cancers in Iowa has doubled. Here are some points listed in a report on Cancer in Iowa released by the University of Iowa:

Iowa has the second highest incidence rate for cancer in the U.S., (behind Kentucky), and is the only state with an increasing rate of cancer. Increasing awareness of risk factors can help Iowans lower their risk for cancer.

In 1973 the Registry recorded 10,140 new cases of cancer among Iowans. Now, we record over 20,000 a year.

While the number of cases has doubled in the past 50 years, the four leading cancers — female breast, lung, colorectal, and prostate cancers — still make up almost 50% of new cases and cancer deaths.

These four cancers are strongly linked to lifestyle factors and have available screenings.


  • Breast 2,920. 14.0%
  • Prostate 2,750. 13.2%
  • Lung 2,700 13.0%
  • Colon and rectum 1,660 8.0%
  • Skin melanoma 1,300 6.3%


  • Breast 36,100. 22.0%
  • Prostate 29,955 18.2%
  • Colon and rectum 15,800 9.6%
  • Skin melanoma 12,920 7.9%
  • Uterus 8,860 5.4%

Officials of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the Iowa Cancer Registry held a news conference to discuss the report.

“We understand how the HPV virus gets into cells, how over many years can make those cells become cancerous,” said Dr. George Weiner of the University of Iowa. “We have ways of detecting whether the cells have been caused by HPV infection.”

“Cancer can be prevented through reduction in tobacco and alcohol,” said Mary Charlton, of the University of Iowa.

The report highlighted what can be expected in 2023:

  • An estimated 20,800 new invasive cancers will be diagnosed among
    Iowans in 2023
  • An estimated 6,200 Iowans will die from cancer in 2023
  • The number of cancer survivors is growing, with an estimated 164,270 survivors in Iowa as of 2018

The report also listed a stark statistic:

“For the most recent five years, the state of Iowa has the 2nd highest incidence rate and the 3rd highest mortality rate for all cancers combined in the Black population. Furthermore, Iowa has one of the greatest differences between the rate of cancer deaths in Black vs. White people.”