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New foundation promises to bring better cancer education to Delaware

University of Delaware

A renowned cancer researcher in Delaware is hoping to stem the disease at its source by helping kids learn how to avoid it in the first place.



Dr. Raj Rajasekaran helped found the cancer center at Nemours A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children and recently kick-started the Cancer Vision Network.


Rajasekaran says the goal is to teach students to avoid things like sunburns, car exhaust, pesticides and smoke to help dramatically lower their risk of cancer later in life.


He recently spoke to elementary school kids at St. Edmond’s Academy in Wilmington.


“I did not use the word ‘cancer’ at all, but I talked to them about cells. The body is all about cells. If you keep yourself healthy, your cells are healthy and if your cells are healthy, you are healthy and strong," said Rajasekaran. "But if your cells become sick, you are going to be sick.”

For the older students, he says he could talk more in-depth about how cancer can lie dormant for years before creating a sizable tumor.
Delaware’s cancer rate is 10.5 percent higher than U.S. averages according to a study released in 2015, though the state’s death rate dropped by more than 15 percent from the late ‘90s to the late 2000s.

Rajasekaran says he expects an even more dramatic drop in that rate if kids learn to avoid sunburns, cigarettes and other large contributors to cancer.


“The more and more I think about it, I’m very positive this education has to be part of the kids’ curriculum and this has to be done in almost all the schools so the kids when they grow older they are protected – they don’t get cancer,” he said.

Rajasekaran hopes to bring his work with the Cancer Vision Network more broadly to Delaware, the region and eventually as an online curriculum that could be accessed from most classrooms.

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