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Delaware continues to have a higher than average rate of cancer, data shows

University of Delaware

The First State continues to rank high nationally in the rate of cancer and resulting deaths. The latest Delaware data shows the rate of cancer and deaths from it continues to decline steadily, but at a slower rate than the nation as a whole. 

Delaware’s annual cancer mortality and incidence reportshows little or no change from last year’s local data comparing the years 2012 through 2016 to the previous five-year average. 

But a 3 percent decline in incidence and a 10 percent decline in mortality is noted in Delaware when compared to the five-year period ten years prior between 2002 and 2006. 

This comes alongside a sharper national decline over the same period—the U.S. saw a 7 percent drop in cancer incidence and a 14 percent drop in related deaths.    

This caused Delaware’s rank to increase from 18th to 15th worst cancer mortality rate in the nation. State Division of Public Health Chronic Disease Bureau Chief Heather Brown says this is likely due to significant improvement in other states. 

“That would suggest to us that individual states improved, which could be an explanation as to why Delaware’s rank may have worsened, or it looks like it has worsened,” said Brown. “But the good news is we’ve seen a decline of 10 percent over the last five-year time period.”         

Delaware’s cancer mortality ranking has improved since the 1990s when it was ranked second worst overall. It continues to rank second overall in its cancer incidence rate.

The state continues outreach to encourage early cancer screening. Brown says it is focusing on zip codes with high rates of late stage cancer diagnosis.

“Whether it’s Facebook geofencing, or we use our Pandora ads for zipcode identification,” Brown said. “We reach out to newspapers and do some print ads in areas that have a local newspaper.”         

Most of the zip codes in Delaware with late-stage diagnosis of breast, colorectal and lung cancers are located in central Delaware. The full list is 19809, 19943 19952, 19960, 19962 and 19963.

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