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Cancer Society Lobbies For Early Detection Funding

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Roughly one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, which is why screening for the disease is so important.

But some women can't afford a yearly mammogram.

A statewide program that screens for breast and cervical cancer has helped thousands of low income women between the ages of 50 and 64 with early detection. Only there isn’t enough money to make it through the year.

Last year, money for the Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program ran out with three months remaining. During the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the state provided $2.1 million but officials expect another shortfall. 

This year, the American Cancer Society is asking for $2.6 million.

“If we had increased funding, I would be able to at least double or triple the number of patients I would be able to see and we should be able to see them year round,” said Dr. Nailah Adams, a physician and medical director for Broward Community and Family Health Centers.

Her clinic provided breast and cervical cancer screenings to about 1,000 patients last year.

“They are able to get this care because of this program and they are so, so grateful to be able to be screened,” Adams said.

The federal government also provides funding -- last year it gave $6 million. Along with detection, the money pays for treatment if cancer is found.

“They are able to get the case they need – fully,” Adams said. “We don’t just find it and then nothing after that.”

Early detection is critical to a woman’s chances of surviving. According to the American Cancer Society, the five year survival rate for breast cancers diagnosed at an early stage is 99 percent.

Gov. Jeb Bush singed the act creating the program in 2001. This year, the program is expected to screen more than 14,000 woman. About 350 of those women will be diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.