State says Delaware’s cancer rates on the decline

Delaware is making progress when it comes to its cancer death rate. The First State is outpacing the rest of the country.

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services made the announcement, Wednesday, based on data contained in the “Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Delaware, 2003-2007” report, which pointed to declines in both incidence and mortality across the state.

According to the report, in Delaware from 1993-97 to 2003-07, the cancer death rate dropped by 18 percent, bypassing the U.S. rate which fell 12.1 percent during the same 10 year period. 

DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf praised the coordinated team effort of the Delaware Cancer Consortium, the Delaware Health Fund Advisory Committee and Governor Jack Markell’s administration educating Delawareans about cancer and about how to prevent the disease.

“At no other time in our state’s history have so many health partners worked in synchronization to help every Delawarean access cancer screenings or treatment, or to receive additional cancer information,” Landgraf said. “Helping Delawareans achieve a better quality of health is a top priority for Gov. Markell and his administration.”

However, challenges remain. The report shows, among other things, that Delaware’s 2003-07 overall cancer death rate was considerably higher than the U.S.’s. Consequently, Delaware is ranked 12th in the nation when it comes to cancer mortality by the Centers for Disease Control. Additionally, disparities remain. For example, the 2003-07 report reveals Delaware’s cancer incidence rate was significantly higher among males compared to females. And that difference persisted among African-Americans and Caucasians.

“Delaware has seen good progress the past few years, but more must be done,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Division of Public Heath. “Public Health is committed to working with our community partners and all Delawareans to share what we know about cancer incidence and how to reduce risk for the disease.”

Dr. Rattay emphasized the importance of reducing behavior risk factors, like tobacco use, obesity and alcohol abuse, which can increase cancer risk.

The Division of Public Heath says it will arrange presentations about cancer rates, risks and prevention methods for community groups who call 302-744-1040.

DPH is expected to release three more reports on Delaware’s cancer rates this year. The next report, “Cancer Incidence in Delaware, 2005-2009,” is expected to be released this summer.

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