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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: October 7, 2011


The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) and the Delaware Cancer Consortium (DCC) sent 60,000 direct mailers this month to educate Delawareans living in specific census tracts reported to have higher cancer incidence rates than the overall statewide incidence rates.

Twenty-six census tracts identified with persistently elevated cancer incidence rates for two reporting periods received the mailers. Cancer rates may vary between census tracts for a variety of reasons, such as clustering of certain lifestyle behaviors like tobacco use, unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity, issues with access to health care, environmental or occupational exposure and even random variation. This number derived from a comparison of the 2001-05 and 2002-06 cancer incidence rates, which indicated elevated cancer rates in 29 of the 196 census tracts (2001-05) and 45 of 196 census tracts (2002-06). The purpose of the mailers was to inform residents within the census tracts with rates elevated during both periods about the elevated incidence rates of cancer and educate them about cancer prevention as well as steps to reduce their risks.

The mailer suggests four action steps for residents to follow:

"Controlling cancer begins with making reliable and complete information accessible to populations that need it most," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director. "This effort puts residents in the driver's seat to determine the resources and services available to support lifestyles that prevent and reduce the risk of the disease."

Delaware's cancer rates have decreased significantly over the years, however the state's overall cancer burden is still high compared to the nation. Delaware's 2002-2006 all site cancer incidence rate of 507.00 per 100,000 was 9.5 percent higher than the national rate of 462.9 per 100,000. Most cancers, such as prostate, colon, cervical and breast cancers are preventable and treatable with early detection. Delaware's cancer prevention, early detection and treatment program is among the most comprehensive and innovative in the nation. The Screening for Life program provides free cancer screenings for breast, prostate, cervical and colon cancers as well as the HPV vaccine for young women and men. The Delaware Cancer Treatment Program provides free cancer treatment to uninsured Delawareans with income up to 650% of the federal poverty level. For more information or to determine your eligibility call the Delaware Helpline at 2-1-1.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.