About the Data


The Environmental Facilities and Cancer Map is designed to present information about cancer cases in the State as well as the location of environmental facilities. It shows:

  • The number of people diagnosed with cancer in small geographic areas of New York State (census block groups).
  • Highlighted areas where cancer is higher or lower than expected
  • The locations of certain environmental facilities.
Data Sources
  • Cancer data: 2005-2009 (5 years)
  • Population data: 2010 (Annual population)
Geographic Coverage Census block groups
Last Update June 2012
Data Methodology View Technical Notes

Data Displays

Five-Year Cancer Counts

  • Five-year cancer counts are shown for block groups. A block group is an area containing about 1,000 to 2,000 people as defined by the US Census.
  • Tabular data show:
    • The numbers of cases of 23 types of cancer that were diagnosed between 2005 and 2009 in people living in the selected area.
    • The total number of cancers, including the 23 different types and others, diagnosed in the area.
    • The total population of the area from the 2010 US Census.
  • To calculate a crude rate using the Five-Year Cancer Count data, multiply the population by five and then divide the cancer cases by this number. Multiplying the population by five is necessary because the cancer cases cover five years while the population covers only one year of data. This will allow you to compare rates between areas with different-size populations. The crude rate does not take into account differences in the age structures (for example, percent of the population that is elderly) of the different areas, which can be important since cancer is mostly a disease of older people.

Cancer Highlighted Areas

  • There are two types of highlighted areas, those where cancer incidence was higher than expected and those where cancer incidence was lower than expected. For areas of higher than expected incidence (pink circles), there had to be 50 percent more observed cases than expected cases. For areas of lower than expected incidence (blue circles), there had to be 50 percent more expected cases than observed cases. In addition, the ratio of observed to expected cases had to be such that it was unlikely to be a chance occurrence.
  • Data show:
    • Cases observed. The number of newly diagnosed cancer cases among people living in the highlighted area.
    • Cases expected. The number of cases calculated based on cancer rates for all of New York State applied to the number of people of different ages living in the highlighted area.
    • 2010 population. The total 2010 US Census population of the highlighted area. In cases of gender-specific cancers, e.g. female breast cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer, population is shown for the appropriate gender.
    • Rate information. The five-year cumulative cancer rate per 10,000 population in the highlighted area is compared to the New York State five-year cumulative cancer rate for the particular cancer to provide another means of comparing highlighted area cancer statistics to New York State statistics.
    • Statewide chronic disease comparisons. A bar chart is also provided that compares the statewide cancer rate to other chronic disease statewide estimates to help users evaluate how common the cancer is in New York State.

Environmental Facilities

Tabular data describing each environmental facility include: an identification code, facility name, address information, county, NYSDEC regional contact, and site status (regulated or unregulated). These data may vary from those available from NYSDEC programs. For the latest data please contact NYSDEC using the Full Metadata contacts provided at the Help icon links next to each layer label.

Technical Notes

Cancer Data

  • The source of the cancer data is the New York State Cancer Registry, which collects, processes and reports information about every New Yorker diagnosed with most cancers. Data in this application are provisional as of February, 2012. They may differ from other data reported by the Cancer Registry at other times because Registry data are continuously updated.
  • Cancer count data include all reportable cancers diagnosed among New York State residents between 2005 and 2009. Cancer data are reported for a five-year time period because the number of cases in single years can vary considerably, particularly in counties outside metropolitan areas.
  • Cancer counts are reported by cancer site, or location of the body where the tumor originated. When a person is diagnosed with more than one primary tumor, all are counted.
  • Cancer counts are based on people's addresses at the time of their cancer diagnoses. It is possible that people with cancer lived elsewhere before their diagnoses.
  • In order to protect privacy, block groups were merged where there were fewer than 6 male or 6 female cancer cases in total. This resulted in a reduction from 15,194 to 13,823 block groups. Merged block groups are designated with names that include the letters "DOH", to indicate they were created by the Department of Health.
  • Expected cases represent the number expected if the likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer at a given age and gender were uniform throughout the state. That is, the expected counts have been age and sex-adjusted.
  • Public access to cancer data is intended solely to allow the public convenient and immediate access to public information. While all attempts are made to provide accurate, current, and reliable information, the Department of Health recognizes the possibility of human and/or mechanical error and that information captured at a point in time often becomes obsolete. Therefore, the Department of Health, its employees, officer and agents make no representation, warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, completeness, currency, or suitability of the information provided here.


  • For block-group level data, the reference population was the 2010 census population, which is the closest census year to the cancer data coverage period of 2005 to 2009. There are no population data for block groups available for the years 2005 to 2009. For statewide data, the reference population was the statewide population between 2005 and 2009 as provided by the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Biometrics and Health Statistics.

Highlighted areas

  • The spatial scan statistic was used to determine the location of highlighted areas from among locations where there was a 50% or greater difference between observed and expected cases. Details of the method used are given in Boscoe FP, McLaughlin CC, Schymura MJ, Kielb CL, "Visualization of the Spatial Scan Statistic Using Nested Circles," Health and Place 2003, 9(3): 273-277. 50% was chosen to reflect a balance between statistical relevance and epidemiological relevance. The former tends to emphasize small elevations or deficits in large populations, while the latter emphasizes large elevations or deficits in small populations.
  • While the areas are shown as circles on the map, they are not literally circles - each block group either belongs to a highlighted area or does not belong to a highlighted area. Thus the true shape of a highlighted area is irregular, though roughly circular. Circles were used on the map for simplicity and to reduce bandwidth.

Comparisons to other chronic diseases

  • Unlike cancer, which is a reportable disease, the incidence of many other conditions must be inferred from samples and surveys. Consequently, the data for heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes should be considered rough estimates.
  • Data on heart attacks and strokes for ages 35 and over were obtained from the Framingham Heart Study via the report Incidence and Prevalence: 2006 Chart Book on Cardiovascular and Lung Diseases,published by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. This report compiles data from six cohort studies and one surveillance study; the Framingham Heart Study was among the largest of these and its data were typically at or near the median of the range from all of the studies. For younger persons, data were obtained from two principle sources: Agrawal et al., "Imaging Data Reveal a Higher Pediatric Stroke Incidence Than Prior US Estimates," Stroke 2009; 40: 3415-3421 and Mahle et al., "Myocardial Infarction in Adolescents," Journal of Pediatrics 2007; 151: 150-154. Note that the rates of heart attack and stroke for persons under 35 are so low that their contribution to the overall rate is negligible.
  • Data on kidney failure were obtained from the 2011 annual data report of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. These data are a complete count of New York residents initiating kidney dialysis and/or transplant between 2005 and 2009 compared with the statewide population for these same years. These data actually represent the procedural category known as end-stage renal disease; we used the more familiar term "kidney failure", which excludes a small number of patients with kidney failure who did not receive either of these treatments.
  • Data on diabetes were obtained from the Center for Disease Control's National Health Interview Survey. These data only apply to ages 18-79.
  • New York State rates for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes were derived by applying the age and sex-specific rates to the age and sex-specific populations in New York State for the 2005-2009 period.

Environmental Facilities Data

  • Environmental Facilities data show the locations of 15 types of environmental facilities within census block areas of New York State. These data are provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Descriptions of the various datasets are found here.
  • The environmental facility information only shows the locations of facilities. It does not contain any information about whether chemicals have been or are being released from these facilities or the likelihood that people may have been exposed to any chemicals that could cause cancer.

Data Availability

Cancer data will be available on the NYSDOH METRIX website listed under Cancer Mapping. This dataset includes observed and expected counts by block group for each of the cancer sites. It also identifies which block groups are included in highlighted areas for each cancer site. A separate file indicates which block groups were merged for reasons of confidentiality protection.

Data Contact