The Hunterdon-Mercer Chronic Disease Coalition is a prevention platform delivering education-oriented initiatives to promote cancer prevention, support early detection efforts, address the needs of cancer survivors and promote health equity and quality of life. It deploys evidence-based strategies through a collaborative and coordinated approach to education and outreach activities to decrease risk factors and increase awareness for improved health outcomes.
Cancer Prevalence in New Jersey
According to the NJ State Cancer Registry, 2009 to 2013, Hunterdon and Mercer Counties are highly burdened by lung, prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers. Please note the age-adjusted incidence and age-adjusted mortality rates per 100,000, respectively. Hunterdon County cancers are attributed to: Lung/bronchus (54.4, 37.8), Prostate (113.9, 16.9), Female Breast (202.9, 24.3), and Colorectal (43.0; 12.9). Mercer County’s cancer burden follows a similar pattern: Lung/bronchus (59.3, 38.2), Prostate (155.1, 22.6), Female Breast (180.4, 22.5) and Colorectal (51.5, 15.7). Lung and female breast cancers are the leading cancer deaths in both counties.
Hunterdon County encompasses a landmass of 427.8 square miles rural-suburban community consisting of 26 municipalities. Historically agricultural, Hunterdon has been transitioning into a more commercial, industrial, and residential community. According to the 2018 US Census population estimate, Hunterdon County is home to 125,059 residents. Of the 125,059 residents, there is an even distribution of males and females, 49.4% and 50.6% respectively. The populous towns include Raritan Township/Flemington, Clinton Township, and Whitehouse Station. It is also home to Hunterdon Medical Center (HMC), the only hospital in Hunterdon.
Hunterdon County consists of predominantly white, non-Hispanic residents (91.3%), a much high percentage than NJ (76.9%). For the past 20 years, the county has seen tremendous growth in the number of people of different races and ethnicity. The Hispanic community in particular, regardless of race, has increased from 2.8% in 2000 to 6.6% in 2018. Asians are the second-largest race/ethnic group in Hunterdon and makeup 4.1% of the county population and African Americans, the third-largest, make up 2.7% of the population (US Census Bureau 2018 Hunterdon County).
Mercer County encompasses a landmass of 226.1 square miles within seven townships, three boroughs, and 34 zip codes. The county and its subdivisions are largely suburban with Trenton as its principal urban center. The county is home to 371,183 residents with Trenton and Hamilton being the two most populated communities in the State of NJ. According to the 2018 Community Health Assessment Report (Greater Mercer Public Health Partnership), the county’s population is growing slower than the State overall. Mercer County has increased by 1.8% since 2010 compared to the statewide growth of 2.0%. Princeton saw the greatest population growth (5.4%) during this time. While Mercer County is 49.1% white, the greatest racial/ethnic increase occurred among Asians (29%), Hispanic/Latinos (20.4%), and persons of two or more races (24.8%). The County’s age distribution mirrors that of the State with 21% age 17 or less and 15% over age 65. Hopewell has a higher percentage of seniors (18.3%) and exceeds the statewide average of 16.7%. In Mercer County, the diversity is more dispersed with 50.3% of residents non-Hispanic white, 21.5% are African-American/Black, 17.1% are Hispanic/Latino and 11.1% are Asian alone. (US Census Bureau Population Estimates 2016, Hunterdon and Mercer Counties, New Jersey).
Growing Senior Population
According to the 2016 Hunterdon County Community Health Assessment, it is projected that by 2032, county residents 65 years and over will make up 28% of Hunterdon County’s population. In Mercer County, seniors aged 65 and over are also the fastest-growing group. They are expected to increase in population in Mercer County by 49% from 46,347 seniors in 2010 to a projected 69,200 in 2028. More importantly, the growth in the senior population is outpacing general population growth, in that seniors are expected to encompass a larger proportion of the general population in the future, a trend expected to be mirrored nationally. Since the prevalence of chronic conditions increases with age, it is imperative to focus on prevention and healthy lifestyle initiatives in the senior population to prevent or minimize healthcare challenges.
Additional Staff & Specialists
Bonnie J. Petrauskas, MBARegional Coordinator, Hunterdon-Mercer Chronic Disease Coalition
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