the Washington city with the highest cancer rates is Yakima

This Washington City Takes the Lead in Highest Cancer Rates in the State

According to the State Cancer Profiles report from the National Cancer Institute, the Washington city with the highest cancer rates is Yakima. The average annual age-adjusted rate of newly diagnosed cancers in Yakima County for 2015 to 2019 was 49.6 cases per 100,000 people, which is higher than the state average of 438.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Factors Contributing to High Cancer Rates

Several factors contribute to Yakima’s elevated cancer rates, painting a complex picture of health challenges in the region.

1. Smoking Rates

Yakima County grapples with the highest smoking rate in Washington state, with over 20% of adults smoking cigarettes. Smoking is a well-established risk factor for various cancers, including lung cancer, bladder cancer, and esophageal cancer. Addressing this prevalent habit is crucial in reducing cancer incidence.

2. Obesity Rates

The county also faces high obesity rates, with over 30% of adults classified as obese. Obesity is linked to several types of cancer, such as breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and endometrial cancer. Encouraging healthier lifestyle choices, including proper nutrition and regular exercise, is imperative in tackling this aspect of the issue.

3. Poverty

Yakima County stands out as one of the poorest counties in Washington state. Poverty intertwines with cancer rates due to various factors, including limited access to healthcare and nutritious foods. Elevating socioeconomic conditions is essential for improving overall health outcomes in the community.

4. Environmental Factors

The region’s industrial landscape, featuring agriculture and manufacturing, might contribute to environmental factors that elevate cancer risks. Pollutants released by these industries into the air and water can potentially increase cancer risks among the local population.

American Cancer Society’s Initiatives

Recognizing the urgent need to address Yakima’s high cancer rates, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has launched several programs aimed at tackling the root causes and providing support.

1. Tobacco Control

The ACS is actively supporting tobacco prevention and cessation programs to reduce smoking rates in Yakima County. By addressing this major risk factor, the society aims to make significant strides in lowering cancer incidence related to smoking.

2. Healthy Lifestyle Promotion

Promoting healthy eating and exercise, the ACS offers nutrition classes and physical activity programs in Yakima County. These initiatives seek to mitigate the impact of obesity, fostering healthier habits within the community.

3. Early Detection

Understanding the importance of early detection, the ACS is providing free and low-cost cancer screenings to individuals in Yakima County who may face barriers to accessing healthcare. Timely identification and intervention can significantly improve treatment outcomes.

4. Support Services

The ACS extends support services to cancer patients and their families in Yakima County, recognizing the emotional and practical challenges associated with a cancer diagnosis. These services aim to provide a holistic approach to cancer care, addressing the multifaceted needs of those affected.

Personal Steps to Reduce Cancer Risk

For residents of Yakima County, taking proactive measures to reduce individual cancer risks is essential.

1. Quit Smoking

For those who smoke, quitting is the most impactful step toward improving overall health and reducing the risk of cancer.

2. Adopt a Healthy Diet

Prioritize a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting processed foods, red meat, and sugary drinks.

3. Embrace Physical Activity

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

4. Regular Cancer Screenings

Consult with healthcare professionals to determine appropriate and regular cancer screenings based on individual risk factors.


Yakima’s status as the Washington city with the highest cancer rates underscores the urgency of addressing multifaceted issues, from lifestyle choices to socio-economic conditions and environmental factors. The collaborative efforts of the American Cancer Society, coupled with individual initiatives, can pave the way for a healthier future in Yakima County. By embracing healthier habits and leveraging available support services, residents can actively contribute to reducing the burden of cancer in their community.


Why is Yakima’s cancer rate so high?

As mentioned above, there are a number of possible explanations for Yakima’s high cancer rates, including:

  • Smoking rates
  • Obesity rates
  • Poverty
  • Environmental factors

What are the most common types of cancer in Yakima?

The most common types of cancer in Yakima are:

  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Skin cancer

What can people in Yakima do to reduce their risk of cancer?

There are a number of things that people in Yakima can do to reduce their risk of cancer, including:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Be physically active
  • Get regular cancer screenings

What is being done to address the high cancer rates in Yakima?

A number of organizations are working to address the high cancer rates in Yakima, including the American Cancer Society, Yakima County Public Health, and the Yakima Valley Cancer Center. These organizations are working to promote healthy lifestyles, improve access to healthcare, and support cancer patients and their families.

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