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Delaware cancer deaths are steadily declining

University of Delaware

Delaware health officials say the state’s cancer death rate is steadily declining.

A new report from the Division of Public Health shows the state’s cancer mortality rate has decreased 15 percent over a decade.


A statewide focus on cancer screening has led to the decline, according to Chronic Disease Bureau Chief Lisa Henry.


“We have been focusing most of our efforts on getting people screened in order to catch cancer and detect it earlier when it’s most treatable,” she said.


In the 1990’s, Delaware had the second highest cancer death rate in the nation. It now ranks 16th highest.


Delaware’s cancer death rates dropped the most for African Americans, who saw a 24 percent decline.


But, even with the improvements, the state’s cancer mortality rate is still 5 percent higher than the national average, which stands at 169 deaths for every 100,000 people.


And lung cancer remains a problem in Delaware, accounting for a third of all cancer deaths in the state.   


“Lung cancer is an area that we’d really like to see a change made," Henry said. "We’d like to see more lung cancer screened for so we can see that mortality rate drop."   


The state is making ground in early screenings for most cancers though.


Delaware currently has the nation’s third-highest rate of women over 40 who have had mammograms in the past two years.


And the number of Delawareans diagnosed with breast or prostate cancer in early, more treatable stages has increased over 50 percent since the 1980’s.


The report looked at all cancer deaths from 2009-2013.


Lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers are the most prominent in the state.

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