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DHSS Press Release

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

Date: March 7, 2012


State Continues to Close Cancer Incidence and Mortality Gap With Nation

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services announced progress today in both the incidence and mortality rates for all site cancers in Delaware. The data contained in the "Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Delaware, 2003-2007" report pointed to declines in both incidence and mortality across the state. The report also highlighted important improvements in mortality rates for African-American men and a reduction in disparities in colorectal cancer screening among Caucasians and African-Americans.

In Delaware from 1993-97 to 2003-07, the cancer death rate decreased 18 percent. The rate outpaced the U.S. rate, which dropped 12.1 percent, during the same 10-year period.

Delaware made progress in several areas:

Secretary Rita Landgraf praised the coordinated work of the Delaware Cancer Consortium, the Delaware Health Fund Advisory Committee and Governor Markell's administration in informing Delawareans about cancer data and educating them about preventing the disease by making better lifestyle choices. Landgraf noted that her agency and the DCC members promote the availability of cancer screenings such as through Screening for Life for eligible persons; nurses to help persons navigate cancer screening and treatment; and treatment services such as the Delaware Cancer Treatment Program.

"At no other time in our state's history have so many health partners worked in synchronization to help every Delawarean access cancer screenings or treatment, or to receive additional cancer information," Landgraf said. "Helping Delawareans achieve a better quality of health is a top priority for Gov. Markell and his administration."

But challenges remain:

Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Division of Public Health, highlighted the importance of reducing behavior risk factors, such as tobacco use, obesity and alcohol abuse, which can increase cancer risk. To educate and empower Delawareans, Public Health is reaching out to each person in Delaware, community health providers, and more to provide information on reducing cancer risk. In addition, Public Health is offering to meet with any community groups to discuss the cancer data and strategies for making healthy choices.

"Delaware has seen good progress the past few years, but more must be done," said Dr. Rattay. "Public Health is committed to working with our community partners and all Delawareans to share what we know about cancer incidence and how to reduce risk for the disease."

Between 2003 and 2007, a total of 23,509 cases of cancer were diagnosed in Delaware, 12,498 cases (53.2 percent) among males and 11,011 cases (46.8 percent) among females. During that five-year period, 8,926 Delawareans died from cancer: 4,654 (52.14 percent) were male and 4,272 (47.86 percent) were female.

The 2003-2007 cancer data report is posted on DPH's website at this address: at

DPH will arrange presentations about cancer rates, risks and prevention methods for community groups who call 302-744-1040.

During the next 12 months, the Division of Public Health plans to release three more reports on Delaware's cancer rates. The next report, "Cancer Incidence in Delaware, 2005-2009," is expected to be released this summer.

* Data are presented as five-year rolling averages to reduce the impact that short-term fluctuations may have due to the small size of Delaware's population.

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.