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DHSS Press Release

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

Date: May 1, 2013


Dover, DE - The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) announced progress today in the battle against cancer in the first state. The DHSS Cancer Incidence and Mortality report for the years 2005-2009 is the most comprehensive cancer data report in the state. And, the most recent data demonstrate that Delaware continues to make progress in fighting cancer, particularly cancer mortality.

In the 1990s, Delaware had the second highest cancer mortality in the country. Under the leadership of the Delaware Cancer Consortium and numerous health partners, that number has dropped significantly since then. In last year's report (from years 2003-2007), Delaware was ranked 12 and now the state ranking has fallen further to 14. "Delaware is making progress by focusing on a three-pronged strategy: prevention, screening and treatment," said Governor Jack Markell. "But the fight is far from over. We cannot be satisfied until we end cancer altogether."

DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf praised the coordinated work of the Delaware Cancer Consortium, the Delaware Health Fund Advisory Committee, the Governor's Council on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and others in informing and educating Delawareans on preventing disease by making better lifestyle choices.

"A main message today is the importance of prevention and to remind people there are things they can do to reduce their cancer risk," said DHSS Cabinet Secretary Rita Landgraf. "One of the simplest changes anyone can make is quitting smoking. Lung cancer is responsible for an astonishing 30 percent of Delaware's cancer deaths and this simple step could save your life."

Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Division of Public Health, highlighted the importance of reducing additional behavior risk factors: obesity, poor diet, inactivity, alcohol abuse, and exposure to UV light-all which can increase cancer risk.

"The cancer data are encouraging, but if we want to reduce the overall incidence of all cancers and further lower mortality, we all must focus on the things we can control, our lifestyle," said Dr. Rattay. "An easy to remember healthy lifestyle slogan is '5-2-1 Almost None': five or more fruits or vegetables daily, no more than two hours of recreational screen time, one hour of total physical activity a day and almost no sugary beverages. Research shows lifestyle improvements matter."

Delaware made progress in incidence or mortality in several areas:

By law, the Delaware Division of Public Health analyzes cancer rates by census tracts. Of Delaware's 214 census tracts, the overall cancer incidence rates were not significantly different from the state's average rate in 189 tracts. The overall cancer incidence rate was statistically significantly higher than Delaware's average 2005-2009 incidence rate in nine census tracts; and in 16 census tracts, it was significantly lower. The rates between census tracts may differ for a variety of reasons including a clustering of lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity; environmental or occupational exposure to chemicals or a lack of such exposure; access to health care, including screenings; and chance or random variation. And, also calculation can be impacted by the inherent instability of rates due to small numbers of cancer cases and small populations in certain census tracts.

The 2005-2009 cancer data report is posted on DPH's website at this address:

DPH will arrange presentations about cancer rates, risks and prevention methods for community groups who call 302-744-1040. For information on quitting smoking, call toll-free:1-866-409-1858. To learn if you qualify for free cancer screenings or treatment, call the Delaware Helpline 2-1-1.

*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.

Delawares Cancer Incidence & Mortality Report 2005-2009.pdf

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.