Cancer remains top killer in Beaufort County

Published 7:06 pm Thursday, August 31, 2017

About 24 percent of deaths in Beaufort County from 2011-2015 were caused by cancer.

Twenty-four percent equates to 682 people. Outlined in the 2016 State of the County Health Report, these staggering numbers may come as no surprise to health officials. For several years, Beaufort County recorded one of the highest rates of cancer in eastern North Carolina.

It’s an issue of which health care providers are aware, and they’re working to combat those statistics. Beaufort County Health Department named cancer as its No. 2 priority to tackle in the coming year.

“Cancer mortality rates in Beaufort County are higher than North Carolina’s average. Men demonstrate a higher rate of cancer mortality than women in both Beaufort County and North Carolina,” according to the SOTCH Report.

African-American residents have the highest rate of cancer mortality at both the county and state levels, the report states.

In its report, the health department outlined some of its cancer resources for residents last year, including: promotion of cancer topics (colon, skin, breast, prostate, etc.); partnership with Vidant Beaufort Hospital for free skin cancer screenings; and providing education and coping mechanisms for breast cancer patients.

Throughout each year, Vidant Beaufort Hospital also heavily promotes information on various types of cancers. Just next door, the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center offers cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, a procedural room, in-house pharmacy and holistic healing classes, all in Washington.

“The day I was first diagnosed — July 25, 2016 — was definitely a valley. Subsequent testing showed there were treatment options available, and I was told I would not be sent home to die,” resident Kevin Scott Cutler wrote in a column for the Daily News. Cutler is battling lung and liver cancer.

Health officials plan to keep fighting against such high numbers of cancer cases. Using the available resources, the health department and other providers hope to lower the cancer mortality rate by 3 percent by the end of this year.