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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
FLORIDA: Cancer Group Seeks State Aid for Early Detection Exams
Mary Shedden
February 2, 2012
Tampa Tribune (01.29.12) - Thursday, February 02, 2012

Since its mid-1990s launch, the Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program has conducted more than 301,000 breast and 143,506 cervical screenings. The state Department of Health program serves underinsured and uninsured low-income women ages 50-64, and it is supported entirely by federal funding.

Last week, 150 volunteers and American Cancer Society state board members lobbied Florida lawmakers to commit $1.2 million in state funding to the program, which would help it reach an estimated 119,000 eligible women who are not now served. Early detection and treatment makes economic sense, said Daniel Armstrong, board chair of ACS's Florida Division. "If we don't detect and treat them early, they become a burden to the state or to the hospitals," Armstrong said.

Many of the women eligible for services have not been screened in at least five years, said Clarence Gyden, the effort's regional coordinator. The program's Hillsborough region - which serves Hillsborough, Polk, Hardy, and Highland counties - conducted more than 6,000 Pap tests and 28,000 breast exams in fiscal 2010-11, detecting cervical cancer or precancer in 64 women and breast cancer in 252, Gyden said.

To qualify, women have to be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level - $44,700 for a family of four. Demand has doubled in the last few years, Gyden said. "With the state of the economy, a lot of the women who used to not qualify for these services now do," he said.

As of Jan. 27, no legislator had come forward to sponsor the funding request.