Delaware cancer numbers down

    New numbers from the state Department of Health and Social Services show Delaware’s cancer rates is down 3.8% through the middle of the past decade.

    New numbers from the state Department of Health and Social Services show Delaware’s cancer rate is down 3.8% through the middle of the past decade.

    The numbers are averaged over a five year period to reduce the impact short-term changes could have on the rate due to the state’s small size.  From 2002 to 2006, Delaware’s cancer incidence rate was 507 per 100,000.  That’s still 9.5% above the national average of 462.9 per 100,000.

    While the decline in incidence of cancer is a positive step for state health officials, they say the decline in cancer mortality is more significant.  Over that five year period, Delaware’s cancer mortality rate dropped nearly 19%.

    The state’s “cancer cluster” problem remains, according to the numbers.  In 45 of Delaware’s 197 census tracts, cancer incidences were significantly higher then the average, while 22 census tracts have significantly lower rates.  State officials say the different rates in some areas may be caused by a cluster of life style behaviors like smoking, environmental or occupation exposure to chemicals, or a varying levels of access to health care.  

    State Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay says, “DPH will complete cancer cluster investigations for each of the 45 census tracts in which the all-site cancer incidence rate is higher than the state average.”  Those investigations are expected to be done by July 30.

    The complete report can be found online at dhss.delaware.gov

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