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SEER*Explorer Help

SEER*Explorer is an interactive tool for quick access to a wide range of SEER cancer statistics organized by cancer site and by demographic characteristics such as sex, race/ethnicity, age, and calendar year. A select number of cancer sites may also be viewed by stage at diagnosis. Statistics may be viewed as graphs or tables and downloaded for use in other programs.

The SEER*Explorer allows for direct comparison of one characteristic at a time (such as Race/Ethnicity or Sex) for selected groups. For example, you can compare Recent Trends of Lung Cancer Incidence by Race/Ethnicity for Women.

New to SEER*Explorer?
Watch a Quick Overview

Using SEER*Explorer

Quick Start Guide

The following steps provide an overview on how to use the SEER*Explorer application.

  1. Select a cancer site using the Get Started with a Cancer Site dropdown list.
    • Select from the list or in the first field of the list begin typing a cancer site name to see the available sites that match your term.
    • The selection of cancer sites determines the data available. For example, Thyroid: Papillary subtype only has three types of data available; SEER Incidence, Survival and Prevalence. Other cancer sites have up to five data types available.
    • If you would like to compare multiple cancer sites on the same graph, select the Compare Cancer Sites option.
  2. Select a data type using the Choose a Statistic to Explore dropdown list.
    • The data types in the dropdown list depend on the availability of the data for the cancer site selected.
    • The data type you select also determines the type of graphs available. For example SEER Incidence allows you to select Recent Trends, Recent Rates, Long-Term Trends, and Rates by Age; while Prevalence allows you to select Complete and Limited Duration.
  3. Select a graph type from those available by clicking on the tab.
    • Some graphs are line graphs while others are bar graphs depending on which is more appropriate to your selection.
    • You can move from the Graph tab to the Data Table tab to see specific numbers.
    • The graph and data table will automatically update as you make selections.
  4. Select a Compare By variable tab.
    • The variable tab opens with the primary variable (the Compare By variable) at the top.
    • You can select Sex, Race/Ethnicity, Age, or Stage at Diagnosis to compare by.
    • Multiple variable values can be selected for the primary variable. For example, when comparing by gender you can select one or more of the choices which are Both Sexes (combined), Female, and Male.
  5. Sex, Race/Ethnicity, Age, Stage at Diagnosis
    • The variables not selected as the variable to Compare By are secondary variables.
    • Select values for the secondary variables by clicking on the plus sign to open the dropdown lists and selecting a radio button next to value you want to use.
    • The secondary variables can only have one value at a time.

Interface Details

An overview of the Seer*Explorer interface.

User Controls

  1. Get Started with a Cancer Site
  2. Choose a Statistic to Explore
    This includes SEER Incidence, U.S. Mortality, Survival, Prevalence, and Risk of Diagnoses/Dying. See definitions by clicking on the question mark.
  3. Graph Type
    See definitions by clicking on the question mark.
  4. Compare By tabs
  5. Compare By variable values
    Select more than one value to have a comparison.
  6. Secondary variables
    Select only one value from each variable.
  7. More Options – See More Options section for details.


  1. Selection Tabs
  2. View APC
    Toggle a panel to view the Annual Percent Change (APC) estimates for a series displayed on the graph.
    Available for Recent Trends and Long-Term Trends
  3. Graph
  4. Legend
  5. Foot Notes
  6. Data Table
    The data table may have choices. If so you can change your selection using the radio buttons.

More Options

The controls available under More Options are dependent on the statistic. All of the possible controls that can appear in More Options:

  • Precision – The number of decimal places shown in the table for Annual Percent Change (APC) or Rates may be specified here. You can set the value to 0.1, 0.01, 0.001, or 0.0001.
  • Show Standard Error – When this option is checked, Standard Errors will be displayed in the data table and will also be displayed if you hover over a data point on the graph.
  • Show Confidence Interval – When this option is checked, the confidence intervals (CI) will be displayed in the data tables as columns for C.I. Low and C.I. High. The values will also be displayed if you hover over a data point on the graph.
  • Group Distribution by Stage – This option is available when the Stage Distribution tab is selected. When this option is checked, the graph will be to show the Stage variable as the legend variable, by default, the stage variable is the x-axis variable on the graph.

Available Statistics

SEER Incidence and U.S. Mortality

SEER Incidence is the number of new cases of the specific cancer site/type per 100,000 people in the U.S. Number of new cases per number of people in a population are also referred to as incidence rates.

Cancer Mortality is the number of deaths caused by a specific cancer site/type per 100,000 people in the U.S. Number of deaths per number of people in a population are also referred to as mortality rates.


Relative survival is an estimate of the percentage of patients who would be expected to survive the effects of their cancer. It excludes the risk of dying from other causes. Relative Survival statistics compare the survival of patients diagnosed with cancer with the survival of people in the general population who are the same age, race, and sex and who have not been diagnosed with cancer.


Cancer Prevalence is the number or percent of people alive on a certain date who have been diagnosed with cancer. In Prevalence we show complete prevalence (people alive ever diagnosed with cancer) and limited-duration prevalence (people diagnosed in the x years prior to the prevalence date).

Risk of Developing/Dying

Lifetime risk is usually given as the likelihood that a person who is free of a certain type of cancer will develop or die from that type of cancer during his or her lifetime.


  • Age-Adjusted Rate
    A method allowing comparisons of populations that takes into account age-distribution differences between populations.
  • Annual Percent Change
    Used to measure trends or the change in rates over time.
  • APC/Rate Precision
    The number of decimal places shown in the data table.
  • Cancer Sites
    Refer to the SEER*Explorer Cancer Site Definitions for more information
  • Confidence Interval
    A range of values that have a specified probability of containing the rate or trend.
  • P-Value
    Used in the calculation of confidence intervals and in significance testing. The default value for all p-values is 0.05 (equivalent to a 95% confidence interval or 0.05 significance).
  • Stage at Diagnosis
    The stage that the cancer has progressed to at the time of diagnosis.
    • Localized: Confined to the Primary Site
    • Regional: Spread to Regional Lymph Nodes
    • Distant: Cancer Has Metastasized
    • Unstaged: Unknown (or Not Enough Information to Indicate a Stage)
  • Standard Error
    The standard error of an estimate is a measure of the sampling variability of the estimate.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I do cross-comparisons of multiple characteristics, for example Race and Sex?
    For certain statistics including recent trends in incidence and mortality rates, 5-year survival, prevalence estimates, and cancer risk comparisons, you can compare multiple characteristics. When the option is available, use the "Additional Comparison" drop down menu in the Compare By section to compare options such as Race/Ethnicity to Sex or Age.

    For other statistics types or more complex cross comparisons, you can download the data in CSV format to be used with other software like Microsoft Excel.

  2. How do I compare multiple types of cancer?
    In the Get Started with a Cancer Site drop down, please select the option to "Compare Cancer Sites". This selection will enable a button in the Compare By section to allow you to select multiple cancer sites for comparison.

  3. Where do I go for Technical Support?
    Please send questions or comments to SEER Website Support.