Delaware cancer mortality rate declines

 A nurse prepares to administer chemotherapy treatment to a patient in this file photo. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

A nurse prepares to administer chemotherapy treatment to a patient in this file photo. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Delaware’s cancer mortality rate decreased 15.8 percent, according to the latest numbers from the state Division of Public Health.

Delaware’s drop in the cancer mortality rate was even better than the national reduction in cancer mortality, which is down 13.1 percent. The numbers compare the number of cancer deaths in 1997-2001 to the number of deaths in 2007-2011. The state’s 2007-2011 cancer mortality rate was 184.2 per 100,000 residents, which is still 6 percent higher than the national rate.

Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf credits earlier detection with the decrease in the rate of cancer deaths. “Many of these continued improvements are because Delawareans are getting screened and finding cancers earlier, when they are most treatable and have the best chance of survival.”

In the 1990’s, Delaware’s cancer mortality rate was among the top five highest in the nation. Now, the state has the 14th highest cancer mortality rate.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

While the mortality rates have declined, there was little change in the incidence rate. From 2007-2011, Delaware’s cancer incidence rate was 508.9 per 100,000 residents. That’s 10.5 percent higher than the national incidence rate.

In addition to the state’s overall cancer mortality rate, Delaware also saw improvement in the female breast cancer mortality rate, which declined by 24.5 percent. In the last ten years, the breast cancer mortality rate for African American women in Delaware dropped 33 percent, compared to only 13 percent drop nationwide.

The report did find some areas for improvement, especially when it comes to lung cancer. From 2007-2011, lung cancer accounted for 14.5 percent of all newly-diagnosed cancer cases, and 29.9 percent of all cancer deaths in Delaware. Delaware women have the fourth highest lung cancer mortality rate in the nation. Delaware men rank twelfth highest for lung cancer mortality.

“We must continue to work with Delawareans on making healthier lifestyle choices, such as not using tobacco,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health. 

The new findings were delivered to the Delaware Cancer Consortium on Monday morning. The numbers are compiled in the report, Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Delaware, 2007-2011.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal