MaineHealth aims to provide access to the best cancer care, at the right place and at the right time, as close to home as possible. The system also strives to prevent cancers by reducing tobacco use and obesity.
Why does MaineHealth focus on decreasing cancer deaths?
- Cancer is the number one cause of premature mortality in the MaineHealth service area.
- The age-adjusted rate of cancer deaths in MaineHealth service area was statistically above the U.S. rate in 2017.
- In the last decade, over 25,000 people within the MaineHealth service area have died from cancer.
- About 60% of all cancer deaths are related to the risk factors of smoking and obesity.
We support a variety of clinical, community and policy actions to help decrease cancer deaths throughout the MaineHealth service area. Here are some of the ways that MaineHealth and our partners are responding:
The Health Index Initiative tracks and monitors a variety of data sources to measure progress being made to decrease cancer deaths.In 2016, MaineHealth leaders set bold, aggressive targets for two of these measures as a way to challenge MaineHealth organizations to continue achieving positive steps toward the MaineHealth vision.
Short-term cancer measure and target:
- As of September 30, 2018, 80% or more of patients 50- to 75-year olds whose primary care is provided at MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization practices will receive appropriate screening for colorectal cancer.
Long-term cancer measure and target:
- For the period 2018-2020 the 3-year, age-adjusted rate of all cancer deaths in the MaineHealth Service area will be ≤146/100,000 of the population.
A key factor that contributed to the decline in cancer death rates in Maine was the increased use of evidence-based colorectal cancer screenings. Screenings help identify tumors in earlier stages and can even prevent cancer by removing precancerous polyps. Primary care practices within the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization are working to continue increasing colorectal cancer screening rates among their 50- to 75-year-old patients. The percentage of patients who had the appropriate screening for colorectal cancer rose from 58% as of February 2015 to 74% in June 2023.
Although the age adjusted rate of cancer deaths in the MaineHealth service area has been decreasing, the rate of 163/100,000 is well above the US rate of 146/100,000. Cancer remains the number one cause of premature (before age 70) mortality in Maine; over 3,400 Maine people died from cancer in 2020.
Although overall cancer incidence is decreasing for most types of cancer, the Maine cancer incidence rates are higher than those in the US overall.