Good and bad news in annual cancer report

DOVER — Although Delaware’s cancer mortality rate fell by 12 percent between the periods of 2000 to 2004 and 2010 to 2014, its incidence rate is the second highest among all 50 states.

Despite the decrease in mortality rate, it remains higher than the national average, the state announced Monday. Officials attributed the high incidence rate in part to success in early detection and screening efforts.

Released by the Division of Public Health as part of a report to the Delaware Cancer Consortium, the data reveals a level of success in combating cancer but with more work to do.

The incidence rate for Delaware was 506.4 per 100,000 people, 14 percent more than the United States as a whole. It was essentially unchanged from 2000 to 2004, although the years in between saw shifts.

Occurrences of cancer fell 5 percent among men but increased by 5 percent in women

The cancer mortality rate for 2010 to 2014 was 178.2 per 100,000 persons, down from 201.7 per 100,000 10 years earlier. Nationally, cancer caused 166.1 deaths per 100,000 people from 2010 to 2014.

Delaware was 16th among states in mortality rate, an improvement from an ignominious second place ranking in the 1990s. The state was 16th from 2009 to 2013 and 14th from 2008 to 2012.

DPH estimates 23 percent of all deaths in the First State in 2016 came from cancer.

“Delaware is making great progress in battling the deadly disease of cancer in our state,” Gov. John Carney said in a statement. “This report shows our successes, but also shows us we have more work to do, particularly when it comes to reducing cancer incidence.

“As an original member of the Delaware Cancer Consortium, I want to thank the strong network of cancer advocates in our state for their important partnership on this issue, particularly the Department of Health and Social Services Division of Public Health, the Consortium, and our many statewide and community champions for the daily work they do to improve access to screening and treatment for all Delawareans.”

From 2010 to 2014, 27,861 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the First State, with breast, prostate and lung cancer the most common types.

Division of Public Health Director Karyl Rattay (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Incidence rates were lower for Hispanics, while they remained highest for black and white males, although the mortality rate fell by 21 percent for blacks and 14 percent for whites.

Cancer rates were essentially the same when broken down by county.

Lung cancer in particular remains a major issue, contributing to 30 percent of all cancer deaths in Delaware from 2010 to 2014. The most common type of cancer, lung cancer is often not diagnosed until it has already spread.

It is generally caused by tobacco use.

DPH intends to intensify its focus on cancer prevention, such as eating healthy, exercising and not smoking.

“While we continue to make progress in screening more Delawareans and detecting cancer earlier, it’s time for us to make a shift in our approach to reducing cancer incidence and mortality,” DPH Director Karyl Rattay said in a statement. “We know that if we really want to move the needle in this area, we need to increase our focus on prevention, screening, and addressing upstream issues such as tackling lifestyle factors that contribute to cancer risk such as obesity and lack of physical activity.”

For a lung cancer screening, individuals can visit HealthyDelaware.org/lung or call 401-4212 to speak with a screening nurse navigator. Those seeking help to stop tobacco use can call the Delaware Quitline at 1-866-409-1858 or visit http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/dpc/quitline.html.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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