Geospatial Methods and Tools

Diagram of Spatial of Cancer Methods and Software NCI Tobacco Policy Viewer Read more about CI Rank Small area estimates Animated Atlas nci map stories Read more about Headbang Read more about SatScan Read more about State Cancer Profiles Read more about NCI Cancer Atlas

Statistical methods and associated software tools have been developed for the statistical analysis and reporting of spatial and temporal patterns of cancer.

Small Area Estimates for Cancer-Related Measures

This website provides state, county, and health service area estimates for smoking prevalence, mammography use, and Pap test use, based on national surveys.


This website presents ranked, age-adjusted cancer incidence and mortality rates by state, county, and special region in the US. The site also presents confidence intervals for those ranks. Ranked, age-adjusted US mortality rates for other causes of death are also provided, along with the confidence intervals.

State Cancer Profiles

This website characterizes the cancer burden in a standardized manner to motivate action, integrate surveillance into cancer control planning, characterize areas and demographic groups, and expose health disparities. Interactive graphics and maps provide support for deciding where to focus cancer control efforts.

NCI Cancer Atlas

This tool allows users to create maps of cancer statistics, demographics, and risk factors.

Animated Historical Cancer Atlas

This tool allows users to animate smoothed age-adjusted death rates over time and view them at the national or state level.

NCI Tobacco Policy Viewer

This interactive tool allows users to map, query, and download historical smoke-free policy data in the United States. It reveals variation across U.S. cities, counties, and states by the types of indoor areas that are smoke-free, length of time since the smoke-free policy came into effect, and number of people who are protected by the policy.

NCI Map Stories

This section provides links to stories that discuss a cancer topic using a map-based explanation.

Head-Bang: Nonparametric Smoothing Software

"Head-banging" is a weighted two-dimensional median-based smoothing algorithm, developed to reveal underlying geographic patterns in data where the values to be smoothed do not have equal variances.


The SaTScan Software analyzes spatial, temporal and space-time point data using a scan statistic. It is designed to:

  • evaluate reported spatial or space-time disease clusters to see if they are statistically significant,
  • test whether a disease is randomly distributed over space or over time or over space and time, and
  • perform geographical surveillance of disease in order to detect areas of significantly high or low rates.