Early detection key to Delaware’s improving cancer mortality rates

By Tim Mastro
Posted 10/14/21

DOVER — Early detection has led to Delaware’s improving cancer mortality rate, according to the latest data from the Division of Public Health.

When comparing 2003-2007 to 2013-2017 in …

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Early detection key to Delaware’s improving cancer mortality rates


DOVER — Early detection has led to Delaware’s improving cancer mortality rate, according to the latest data from the Division of Public Health.

When comparing 2003-2007 to 2013-2017 in Delaware, all-site cancer mortality rates decreased 26% among non-Hispanic African American males and 15% among non-Hispanic Caucasian males. However it did increase 18% among Hispanic males.

Among Delaware females during the same period, all-site cancer mortality rates decreased 12% among non-Hispanic African Americans, 15% among non-Hispanic Caucasians and 12% among Hispanics.

The data is from DPH’s report, Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Delaware 2013-2017. It was presented to the Delaware Cancer Consortium earlier this week, seeking to compare Delaware’s cancer incidence and mortality trends for 2013-2017 to those of the U.S. over the same period and summarize how Delaware and U.S. cancer rates have changed from the five-year periods of 2003-2007 to 2013-2017.

Delaware’s cancer mortality rate remained 15th-highest in the U.S. for the timeframe of 2013-2017, which is unchanged from 2012-2016.

A greater emphasis on cancer screenings has led to more cases of cancers being discovered.

There were nearly 29,000 new cancer cases diagnosed in Delaware in 2013-2017, a slight increase from the 28,581 cases in 2012-2016. Of those cases, 51% of those diagnosed were male, and 78% were non-Hispanic Caucasians. Delaware saw statistically higher rates (484.3 per 100,000) for all-site cancer incidence than the U.S. (435.0 per 100,000).

Delaware remained second-highest nationally for all-site cancer incidence during 2013-2017, the same as 2012-2016.

While catching cancer early has led to more cases being discovered, it can help with surviving the disease, which has helped with the state’s improving mortality rate.

“The data show us clearly that early screening and prevention are critical for bringing down cancer mortality rates,” said Molly Magarik, DHSS secretary.

Ms. Magarik encouraged Delawareans to not put off these screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn how to prevent, detect, and treat chronic diseases and obtain assistance with a cancer screening, visit the state’s Healthy Delaware website.

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to delay cancer screenings and other preventive chronic disease care, and economically disadvantaged communities are typically impacted the most,” Ms. Magarik said. “Free cancer screenings are available to eligible Delawareans and we know they can lead to earlier diagnosis and to saving lives.”

The Screening for Life program provides payment for cancer screening tests to qualified Delaware adults. Eligible individuals can receive office visits, mammograms and clinical breast exams, Pap tests and screening tests for prostate, colorectal and lung cancer when recommended by a doctor. SFL also provides lung cancer screenings for eligible men and women.

SFL can be contacted by visiting here  or by calling 302-401-4212 to speak with a screening nurse navigator.

DPH’s health equity initiatives led to improvements among racial and ethnic groups.

While there was no significant statistical difference in all-site cancer incidence rates between non-Hispanic Caucasians (496.9 per 100,00) and non-Hispanic African Americans (485.5 per 100,000) in the 2013-2017 period, Hispanics (389.1 per 100,000) had a lower all-site cancer incidence rate compared to both non-Hispanic Caucasians and non-Hispanic African Americans.

All-site cancer incidence rates decreased 12% among non-Hispanic Caucasian males, 22% among non-Hispanic African-American males, and1 2% in Hispanic males.

For females during the same 10-year period, the all-site cancer incidence rate decreased 9% among Hispanic females, but increased 3% among non-Hispanic Caucasians and less than 1% among non-Hispanic African Americans.

“In order to address the disparities that persist in cancer incidence and mortality, we must address the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, and age and the systems put in place to deal with illness,” said DPH director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “These social determinants of health include housing and neighborhood conditions, educational and economic factors, transportation systems, social connections, and other social factors. We must look at the racial disparities across the cancer continuum from prevention to end-of-life care that result from differences in the social determinants of health as no longer endurable.”