DOVER — Cancer rates in Delaware are declining, based on a report released by the Division of Public Health (DPH) Monday. Rates of diagnoses and fatalities from cancer are decreasing around the state.
The study titled “Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Delaware” reported data tracked between 2007 and 2011.
The national cancer death rate decreased 13 percent nationally according to the study, but Delaware is making greater strides, decreasing mortality by 16 percent.
In the 1990s, Delaware was ranked second in cancer mortality, but in the 2007-2011 report, it has dropped to 14th. Although improvements have been significant, 184 individuals per 100,000 die of cancer in the state compared to 174 per 100,000 across the United States.
Cancer mortality for men in Delaware and the nation is significantly higher than that of females. In Delaware, 221 in every 100,000 males will die from cancer and only 158 in ever 100,000 women will.
In the report, data was reported as far back as 1980 and since then, cancer mortality rates have dropped across the board, both for men and women, both black and white.
In the study released Monday, black and white women are affected the least by cancer, followed by white men, then black men.
Even though black men still have the highest cancer mortality rates, they have steadily been closing the gap since 1989.
Prior to 1989, the rate of cancer mortality for black men in Delaware was 25 percent higher than the national average. Now, the national average of cancer mortality for black men in 206 per 100,000 nationally and 193 in Delaware.
The likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer can be reduced by living a healthier lifestyle; one that includes plenty of exercise and a healthy diet.
DPH promotes a 5-2-1-Almost None strategy including five servings of fruit or vegetables, less than two hours of recreational screen time, one hour or more of physical activity and almost no sugary beverages.
Although the report brought forward loads of good news, there are still four cancers that dominate the field — breast, colorectal, lung and prostate.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for women and Delaware ranks 13th highest in incidence and 17th highest in mortality. It accounts for 28 percent of all new female cancer diagnoses in the report.
Even as this cancer remains prevalent, breast cancer mortality has declined in Delaware far faster than in the U.S. The rate has decreased 25 percent in Delaware and 18 percent in the U.S. since the 1997-2001 report was released.
Colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer for both men and women in Delaware, accounting for more than eight percent of all new cancer cases between 2007 and 2011.
Delaware ranks 28th highest in incidence and 27th highest in mortality for colorectal cancer. But, like the overall trend, mortality in Delaware is decreasing — down 28 percent since the 1997-2001 report.
One of the most important reasons mortality is decreasing is early detection. Delaware is fourth in the nation for colorectal cancer screenings for individuals 50 and older.
Lung cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer for both men and women, accounting for about 14 percent of all new diagnoses. Even though lung cancer is the second leading cancer, it is the easiest to prevent.
According to Dr. Karyl Rattay, the director of DPH, tobacco use, especially smoking remains prevalent in Delaware, with about 20 percent of adults smoking tobacco and 14 percent of the state’s youth. Dr. Rattay also said that 85 to 90 percent of lung cancer cases can be attributed to tobacco use.
Nationally, Delaware ranks 12th highest for both instances and mortality rate for lung cancer and the mortality rate is well ahead of the national average.
Lastly prostate cancer, the number one cancer diagnosis in men accounted for more than 30 percent of new male cancer cases in Delaware between 2007 and 2011. The rate of incidence has Delaware as the fourth highest in the nation but only the 17th highest in mortality rates.
Both nationally and in Delaware, the mortality rate for prostate cancer has declined more than 27 percent across the board from the 1997-2001 study. But black men are more prone to the disease, being diagnosed at almost twice the rate of white men.
“We are pleased to see Delaware make progress in cancer mortality rates, but there’s still more work to do,” Dr. Rattay said. “And now, there are more early diagnosis opportunities than ever before.”
Delaware offers a Screening for Life program in cooperation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Residents meeting certain age and income requirements may be eligible for free cancer screenings and health information.
To learn if you are eligible for Screening for Life, visit dhss.delaware.gov or call the Delaware Help Line at 211.