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Ever had cancer: Other kind

Codes and Frequencies

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CNOTHR identifies sample adults age 18 and older who had ever been told that they had some kind of cancer other than those kinds specified in other public use cancer type recodes. Before 2018, CNOTHR identifies whether sample adults and older had some kind of cancer other than the list of 29 different cancer types listed below under the "Related Variables" heading (with the exception of skin melanoma cancer (CNSKMELN). Those sample adults who reported ever being told by a doctor or other health professional that they had cancer or a malignancy of any kind (CANCEREV) were asked the follow-up question, "What kind of cancer was it?"

Interviewers marked up to three kinds of cancer specified on the survey form, and noted when the respondent mentioned more than three types of cancer. The 1997-2000 Field Representative's Manual directed, "Count the same type of cancer or malignancy on different body parts as only one kind. For example, malignant moles on the face, neck, and trunk should be counted as only one kind of cancer." Interviewers were further directed to not read the answer categories on the survey form to respondents. If the respondent used a technical term not on the form, then the interviewer was to "ask what part of the body this affected and enter that"; if the answer did not fit a category on the form, then the interviewer was to mark "other" and write down the response.

The coded responses to "What kind of cancer was it?" were the basis of a series of dichotomous variables, each indicating whether a particular type of cancer was mentioned by a respondent who was ever diagnosed with cancer.

Related Variables 

The term "other kind of cancer" refers to a type of cancer other than the following specific types of cancer, each of which was the subject of a separate dichotomous variable:

  • larynx-windpipe cancer (CNLARX)

  • mouth, lip, or tongue cancer (CNMOTH)

  • (non-melanoma) skin cancer (CNSKNM)

  • skin cancer of an unknown type (CNSKDK)

  • soft tissue (muscle or fat) cancer (CNSOFT)

  • throat-pharynx cancer (CNTHRO)

Those who mentioned having been diagnosed with more than three types of cancer are identified in CNKIND3.

Interviewers asked the additional follow-up question, "How old were you when [this cancer] was first diagnosed?" This information was again collected for up to three specific types of cancer. Age at first diagnosis of some kind of cancer other than those specified above is reported in CNOTHRAG.


This variable is completely comparable for the 1997-2018 samples. Several changes introduced in 2019 may affect comparability with earlier years, including (1) changes in the types of cancers included in "other" due to the suppression of several cancer type variables that were available prior to 2019; and (2) the introduction of a major questionnaire redesign.

Several cancer type variables were suppressed beginning in 2019 (and therefore newly included in "other" cancer type (CNOTHR)), and one new cancer type variable (CNSKMELN) was introduced. Cancer types that were suppressed beginning with the 2019 data included kidney (CNKIDN), soft tissue (CNSOFT), and testicular (CNTEST). A new cancer type variable, skin melanoma cancer (CNSKMELN) (separately and in addition to the already existing melanoma cancer type (CNMELN)), was added in 2019. According to the National Cancer Institute, melanoma is a type of cancer that affects melanocytes (cells that color the skin), and is typically found in the skin, but can also appear in the eye (intraocular or ocular melanoma). Interviewers did not read the list of cancer types aloud to respondents, and instead coded the verbatim responses provided by respondents into the list of cancer types when the response was recorded. For this reason, it is not possible to know whether skin melanoma cancer in 2019 is comparable to melanoma cancer in 2018 and earlier years, or whether melanoma cancer other than skin melanoma cancer reported in 2019 is comparable to soft tissue cancer (CNSOFT) in 2018 and earlier years. The NHIS questionnaire was substantially redesigned in 2019 to introduce a different data collection structure and new content. For more information on changes in terminology, universes, and data collection methods beginning in 2019, please see the user note.


  • 1987: Half of sample adults aged 18+ who were told they had cancer.
  • 1997-2018: Sample adults aged 18+ who were ever told they had cancer.
  • 2019: Sample adults aged 18+ who were ever told they had cancer (CANCEREV).


  • 1987, 1997-2019