US Mortality Data, 1969-2011

US Mortality data, collected and maintained by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)External Web Site Policy, can be analyzed with the SEER*Stat software. The data include all causes of death, not just cancer deaths. NCHS granted the SEER program limited permission to provide the mortality data to the public.

Accessing the US Mortality Data

Obtaining the mortality data requires the following:

  • US Mortality data are only available to SEER*Stat users who access these data in client-server mode. The data are not distributed on the SEER*Stat DVD or compressed data files.
  • A signed research data agreement is required to access the US Mortality and SEER data through SEER*Stat.
  • You will be given a username and password within two business days of SEER receiving your signed SEER Research Data Agreement allowing you to access the data utilizing SEER*Stat's Client-Server Mode.

Suggested Citation

A citation for the use of NCHS mortality data for publication purposes is required. When you select a mortality database from the Data Tab during a SEER*Stat session, the suggested citation will appear at the bottom of the Data Tab window.

Identifying Information Excluded from the Mortality Data

Every effort has been made to exclude information that could be used to identify individuals in the US mortality data distributed with SEER*Stat. Information such as race, age, sex, and demographic characteristics are included in the data for research purposes, but the level of detail has been reduced to rule out person-recognition.

For 1969-2011, deaths are associated with the population data for 3 racial groups: White, Black, Other. The "Other" race category consists of American Indian/Alaskan Native and Asian/Pacific Islander combined. (See Race Recode Changes for more information).

County-Level Year of Death Recode Variable Groupings

In mortality databases aggregated with county attributes, SEER defines year of death groupings so the data can only be analyzed for a minimum of a 3-year group. The groupings are defined as follows:

  • the latest group is always a 5-year grouping;
  • the 2nd most recent is a 3-, 4-, or 5-year grouping, and after 5, it is split into two 3-year groups;
  • All earlier groups are 3-year.

Data Changes

The following changes have been made to the US Mortality Data since previous years:

  • Suppression on fewer than 10 deaths
    Beginning with the release of the 1969-2008 mortality database (September 2011), data is suppressed if the number of deaths is fewer than four.
  • Suppression on fewer than 4 deaths
    In the release of the 1969-2007 mortality database (June 30, 2010), data is suppressed if the number of deaths is fewer than four. This change was also made to all the previously-released mortality databases available though SEER*Stat. If older SEER*Stat sessions included counts of 1, 2, or 3, the results will change if the analyses are repeated.
  • Race and Ethnicity Variables (current definitions)
  • Mortality data for the state of Colorado:
    For the 1969-2003 data, the NCI version of the US mortality file differs slightly from mortality data obtained directly from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for the state of Colorado. Broomfield County, Colorado was newly created from parts of Adams, Boulder, Jefferson, and Weld Counties, effective November 15, 2001. Broomfield appears as a separate county in the NCHS mortality data in 2003. However, for 2002, the State of Colorado was instructed to recode the Broomfield County resident deaths to Adams County for submission to NCHS. We have updated the US mortality file with information provided by the State of Colorado and reassigned these deaths among Broomfield County residents (i.e., the ones recoded to Adams County in 2002) to Broomfield County. Thus, the Broomfield County, Colorado deaths are available back through 2002 for analysis with SEER*Stat.
  • Mortality data for the state of Alaska
    For the 1990-2002 data, the NCI version of the US mortality file differs slightly from mortality data obtained directly from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for the state of Alaska. In 1990, the Denali Borough was created from the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, but the US mortality file contains data for the combined areas through 2002. We have updated the US mortality file based on information provided by the State of Alaska to report deaths in Denali Borough and Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area separately starting in 1990.