Health Dept Releases 2016-2020 Vermont Cancer Plan

Tue, 03/29/2016 –

Vermont Business Magazine Cancer is the leading cause of death in Vermont. Vermont has a higher cancer rate than the US average, with  higher rates of melanoma, lung, bladder, and uterine cancers. However, Vermont generally has lower rates of prostate, colorectal, cervical, and stomach cancers. Since 2005, the Department of Health — together with Vermont’s statewide cancer coalition, Vermonters Taking Action Against Cancer (VTAAC) — has published a five-year strategic plan to reduce the impact of cancer on individuals, families, and communities in Vermont. “The 2016-2020 Vermont Cancer Plan: A Framework for Action” is a guide for cancer control and prevention practices across the state and represents the collective efforts of cancer stakeholders throughout Vermont.

Click the report cover to access the entire report.

The plan includes shared goals, objectives, and priority strategies for reducing the burden of cancer in Vermont over the next five years. The 2016-2020 goals address the following areas:

  • Reduce cancer-related disparities in Vermont.
  • Prevent cancer from occurring or recurring.
  • Detect cancer at its earliest stages.
  • Treat cancer with appropriate, quality care.
  • Ensure the highest quality of life possible for cancer survivors.

The 2016 – 2020 Vermont Cancer Plan provides guidance, information, data, and links to partners and resources for all Vermonters. Vermont’s cancer community – including the Department of Health, the statewide cancer coalition, Vermonters Taking Action Against Cancer (VTAAC), hospitals, cancer survivors, non-profit organizations and other community organizations came together to create this document.

The Vermont Cancer Plan goals and objectives build upon Vermont’s State Health Assessment plan, called Healthy Vermonters 2020 (HV 2020), which assesses and tracks the health status of Vermonters. HV 2020 includes more than 100 population health indicators that will guide the work of public health through 2020.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Vermont.

From the 1960s through 2006, the two leading causes of death in Vermont were heart disease and cancer, respectively. In 2007, cancer took over as the leading cause of death among Vermonters. It significantly impacts the physical, economic, and social well-being of individuals and families across Vermont. Cancer incidence is the number of new cases occurring in a population during a year. Each year, approximately 3,600 Vermonters are diagnosed with cancer (Vermont Cancer Registry, 2008–2012). Cancer mortality is the number of deaths from cancer occurring in a population during a year. Each year more than 1,300 Vermonters die of cancer (Vermont Vital Statistics, 2008–2012).

Cancer in Vermont

Five types of cancer make up the majority of new cancers diagnosed or cancer-related deaths (Figure A). The sites in the body in which these cancers occur are different for men and women. More commonly diagnosed cancers, such as melanoma, are not leading causes of cancer death because the chances of survival are very good. In contrast, certain cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, are less commonly diagnosed but much more likely to cause death.

Early Detection

When cancer is found and treated early, a person’s chance for survival is much better. Some cancers, such as melanoma, prostate, and female breast, are most often diagnosed at earlier stages.

Other cancers, such as colorectal and lung, are usually diagnosed at later stages. Screening tests, including those available for breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancers, help to detect cancer at an early stage when treatment works best. Tracking the stage at diagnosis for common cancers in Vermont is a good way to monitor the impact of cancer screening.

Vermont compared to US

After accounting for the age and size of the population, the 2008–2012 age adjusted cancer incidence rate in Vermont (471.9 per 100,000) is higher than the US rate (461.9 per 100,000). Incidence rates of different cancer types vary from year to year. In general, Vermont typically has higher rates of melanoma, lung, bladder, and uterine cancers than the US. However, Vermont generally has lower rates of prostate, colorectal, cervical, and stomach cancers than the US.

Cancer Prevalence Cancer prevalence is the number of people alive today who have ever been diagnosed with cancer. This includes individuals who are newly diagnosed, in active treatment, have completed active treatment, and those living with progressive symptoms of their disease. As Vermont and the nation’s population ages, the occurrence of new cancer cases is expected to increase. With treatment advances, people are living longer with a cancer diagnosis. The number of cancer survivors increased by over a third between 2002 and 2012.

Approximately 36,000 adult Vermonters (7%) are living with a current or previous diagnosis of a non-skin cancer (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 2014). There are no significant differences in the proportion of cancer survivors living in different counties in Vermont.

2016 – 2020 Cancer Plan Goals, Objectives & Strategies

The plan outlines the shared goals, objectives, and priority strategies for reducing the burden of cancer in Vermont over the next five years. The 2016-2020 goals are:


Reduce cancer-related disparities in Vermont

FOCUS AREAS: Low-Income Vermonters (adults with a household income under 250% of the Federal Poverty Level); and Cancer Survivors.

ACTIONS: Assess barriers to screening and preventive care; work with partners who serve low income populations; promote and support advocacy for quality, affordable care; and continue surveillance work to assess the impact of cancer on low income populations.


Prevent cancer from occurring or recurring

FOCUS AREAS: Tobacco; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Nutrition; HPV; and Environmental Hazards (ultraviolet radiation, radon and safe drinking water).

ACTIONS: Collaborate with partners focused on chronic disease prevention (such as tobacco, oral health, physical activity and nutrition); promote widespread adolescent vaccination for a complete HPV vaccine series; support partners and promote programs focused on reducing environmental hazards like radon and safe water; and support efforts to use media to educate key audiences about risk factors for cancer.

Early Detection

Detect cancer at its earliest stages

FOCUS AREAS: Colorectal, Cervical, Breast, Lung, and Prostate Cancers.

ACTIONS: Promote public and provider cancer screening guideline documents; contribute to public and provider education; promote and implement health systems interventions; and support efforts to use media to promote the importance of screening and early detection.

Cancer Directed Therapy & Supportive Care

Treat cancer with appropriate, quality care

FOCUS AREAS: Cancer Directed Therapy; Palliative Care; and Complementary and Integrative Medicine.

ACTIONS: Promote the importance of palliative care within the cancer treatment cycle; promote safe and educated use of appropriate complementary therapies; and promote cancer treatment based on evidence-based guidelines, treatment planning, and the needs of the whole patient.

Survivorship & End-of-Life Care

Ensure the highest quality of life possible for cancer survivors

FOCUS AREAS: Survivorship Care Plans; Optimal Health for Survivors; and End-of-Life Care.

ACTIONS: Promote and educate partners regarding the importance of survivorship care plans; support survivorship programs; educate survivors and providers about strategies to reduce cancer recurrence and promote optimal health for survivors; and support end of life care initiatives.


Evaluation is a fundamental component of the Vermont Cancer Plan. A five-year evaluation plan has been developed in conjunction with the Cancer Plan to measure and improve the effectiveness of the Vermont Comprehensive Cancer Control program, VTAAC and the plan. The evaluation plan follows the parameters recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. These criteria are to focus on the three components of the Comprehensive Cancer Control program: the Plan, Partnership, and Program. Evaluation questions and findings will demonstrate the degree of program impact, how specific strategies have contributed to overall goals, and how accountability and progress have been supported by the Vermont Comprehensive Cancer Control Program and VTAAC.

The evaluation plan can be found on the Department of Health website at: (link is external)

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