- The color-coded maps form the core of the atlas, portraying the regional distribution of cancer mortality in both absolute and relative scales.
First, maps based on an absolute scale show the mortality rates separately for males and females. In each set of facing map pages, the page on the left shows the rates for the 5-year period 1981-1985 and the page on the right shows the rates for the subsequent 5-year period 1986-1990. "Absolute scale" means that these maps use a common scale of age-standardized mortality rates (ranging from 0 to 95 cases per 100 000 population) for all the cancer sites. The color scale for each map is shown a the bottom of the page. The colors toward the lighter, yellow end of the scale represent relatively low mortality rates; the colors in the intermediate yellow-orange or light red range represent moderate mortality rates; and the colors in the red to dark-red range signify a high mortality. Thus, a visual comparison of different sections will show at once whether the mortality for one type of cancer is higher than the mortality for another type. Moreover, developments such as a decline in mortality from the first to the second 5-year period can be appreciated at once by noting that the map on the right exhibits lighter shades of color than the map on the left (see stomach cancer, for example). The bars above the color scale indicate the range of mortality rates, and the bar lengths represent the number of regions that display the corresponding rates. The method used to calculate the color values is described in the section above, "Methods of Representation".
The maps for total cancer mortality do not follow this scheme; instead they use the same color scheme but a different scale. An identical scale is used for males and females, however,
- The relative-scale maps are based on an evaluation of the entire 1981-1990 10-year period. These maps are shown in a reduced format on the map pages for males and females. Due to the potential for misinterpreting this type of map, as described above, and giving mortality data from the former GDR, the western and eastern parts of the country have been calculated and depicted separately on these maps. Accordingly, different scales are used for the underlying mortality rates. This type of map emphasizes the regional differences in mortality and uses a seven-step color scale that is the same for all cancer sites and for both sexes, regardless of the level of mortality.
The districts are color-coded into seven mortality groups for the cancer in question, ranging from dark green (5%, relatively lowest rates) to green (10%), light green (20%), yellow (30%), orange (20%), light red (10%), and finally to red (%, relatively highest rates). This method of cancer mapping does not show whether the overall mortality from a particular cancer is high or low, and it always demonstrates regional differences, even if these differences are actually small based on the underlying mortality rates. These maps should be interpreted in conjunction with the absolute-scale maps, therefore
A white-colored district signifies that no cancer deaths occurred in that district; it does not signify an absence of data.
last update: 22/05/2007 back to top