A new atlas of color-coded maps showing the nation's cancer death trends among white adults indicates that mortality from the disease is becoming more uniform among regions but that geographic "hot spots" persist, cancer experts said.
The atlas, a revision of one published a decade ago, illustrates deaths from all cancers combined and separately for 33 types of malignancy from 1950 to 1980.
Dr. Vincent T. DeVita, director of the National Cancer Institute, said the maps are intended as research tools to pinpoint geographic areas with average, below-average or above-average cancer death rates, enabling researchers to see trends not apparent in raw numbers and to consider possible environmental factors.
Dr. Joseph F. Fraumeni, director of the institute's epidemiology and statistics program, said the new atlas shows that North-South differences in cancer mortality noted for decades are beginning to fade.
The atlas shows that what had been disparate death rates for some cancers, such as those of the breast and colon, are becoming similar in parts of the country. He said that may indicate that regions are becoming more alike in life style and the availability of medical diagnosis and care.
"The most notable new pattern is the emergence of elevated death rates for lung cancer among women in areas of Florida and along the mid-Atlantic and West Coasts," Fraumeni said, while lung cancer deaths for men were increasing primarily in the South.
The maps were compiled from death certificate information.