Good and bad news in latest cancer report

DOVER — Delaware’s cancer rates continue to decline but remain worse than the national average, according to data unveiled Monday.

Released by the Division of Public Health, the report on cancer incidence and mortality covers the time period of 2011-2015.
According to the findings, Delaware’s cancer mortality rate fell 14 percent from 2001-2005 compared to 2011-2015 but is still behind the national rate.

About 175 out of every 100,000 Delawareans died from cancer in the years examined in the recent report. Nationwide, only about 164 per 100,000 people died from cancer.
The cancer incidence rate fell from around 504 out of every 100,000 people to approximately 495 per 100,000 in Delaware from 2001-2005 to 2011-2015. However, the rate for the entire country is still far lower, at just over 439 per 100,000.

Delaware’s incidence rate was second among the states, although local health officials attribute this in part to the focus on early detection and screening.
All-site cancer incidence fell by 9 percent among men but increased by 3 percent in women.
In the most recent report, Delaware ranked 18th in cancer mortality, an improvement of two slots from the 2010-2014 findings.

From 2011-2015 compared to 2001-2005, the cancer mortality rate fell 30 percent among black men, 19 percent among white men and 7 percent among Hispanic men.

There was a 14 percent drop among black women, a 13 percent decrease among white women and a 4 percent improvement among Hispanic women.

“Seeing a reduction in certain cancer disparities is both encouraging and rewarding, as it is a sign that we are making positive steps toward achieving health equity among all Delawareans regardless of race, ethnicity or gender,” Kara Odom Walker, secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, said in a statement. “We can achieve even greater successes as we move from a system focused on the treatment of diseases to one increasingly focused on the prevention of diseases.”

Nineteen percent of cancer cases and 29 percent of cancer deaths in the First State from 2011-2015 were due to lung cancer. Although lung cancer rates decreased, especially among black men and women, they saw a smaller decline than the nation as a whole.

More cases of breast cancer were reported from 2011-2015 than 2001-2005, with many of those cases being diagnosed at the earliest stage, when cancer is most treatable.

The breast cancer mortality rate fell 12 percent, lagging behind the 17 percent decline seen nationally.
The state’s colorectal cancer incidence rate decreased 30 percent from 2001-2005 to 2011-2015, a sharper decrease than the comparable U.S. rate.
The prostate cancer mortality rate fell 37 percent, compared to the national decrease of 28 percent. Delaware ranks sixth in prostate cancer screening tests.

Although just 2 percent of cancer cases from 2011-2015 were of the liver, liver cancer incidence and death rates saw a big jump in 2011-2015 from 2001-2005. Liver cancer is especially common and deadly among black Delawareans.

According to DHSS, the increases stem from the hepatitis C virus, commonly seen in the baby boomer population, as well as alcohol use, smoking and obesity.
“Liver cancer is one that can be prevented, and the power to do that is in everyone’s hands,” Division of Public Health Director Karyl Rattay said in a statement.
“If we want to begin to reduce the number of new cancer cases and cancer deaths in our state, we have to ensure that injection drug users are not sharing dirty needles, increase efforts to get people to reduce their obesity risk, lower their alcohol consumption and stop smoking tobacco.
DPH is planning a more in-depth look at the geographic areas where these issues intersect in order to better direct prevention-focused resources to address this issue.”

The report can be viewed at
For more information about the state’s cancer prevention and treatment work, visit or call the Delaware Comprehensive Cancer Control Program at 744-1020. To learn about the Delaware Cancer Consortium, including its recommendations, visit

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