Women should receive regular screenings to promote the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.
- All women: Know the benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening, including family history and risk factors. Contact your health care provider if you are under age 40 and notice any of these symptoms when conducting a self-breast exam.
- Women ages 40 to 44: Discuss breast cancer screening, including mammograms (x-rays of the breast), with your health care provider.
- Women ages 45 to 54: Schedule a yearly mammogram through your health care provider, or through your local county health department if you qualify for Florida’s Early Detection Program.
- Women 55 and older: Can switch to mammograms every two years or continue yearly screening. Screening should continue as long as you are in good health and expected to live 10 more years or longer.
If you do not have access to a health care provider, you may be able to receive free or low-cost screenings through the Florida Department of Health’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
MALE breast cancer
Although rare, men can develop breast cancer too. In 2019, there were 19,060 women in Florida diagnosed with breast cancer compared to 193 men, according to the Florida Cancer Data System. If you notice any breast changes, you should see a health care professional as soon as possible. According to the American Cancer Society, changes to watch for include:
- A lump or swelling, which is often (but not always) painless
- Skin dimpling or puckering
- Nipple retraction (turning inward)
- Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
- Discharge from the nipple
Based on the most recent data from the CDC, the highest incidence and death rates of male breast cancer are found in non-Hispanic Black men and men over 80 years old. Be proactive when it comes to your health and talk with your doctor about the benefits of breast cancer screening.
Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
The Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program promotes early detection and treatment of cancer by encouraging all women to receive regular screenings.
If you do not have access to a health care provider, you may be able to receive free or low-cost screenings through the Early Detection Program. The care of most women diagnosed under this program is supported by the Florida Medicaid program. The program is structured to reach women in each county across the state.
The total budget for the Early Detection Program is $6 million, which includes state funds matched at a 3:1 rate by federal dollars.
Florida’s Early Detection Program offers services such as:
- Breast and cervical cancer screening (clinical breast exams, mammograms, and pap-smear tests).
- Diagnostic testing for women with abnormal screening results.
- Care coordination for all women with abnormal exams.
- Florida Medicaid eligibility referral for women screened and diagnosed with cancer through the Early Detection Program.
The eligibility requirements for women to be screened by the program include all of the following:
- Florida resident
- Aged 50-64
- At or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, and
- Underinsured or uninsured
Women younger than 50 who are symptomatic, have a family history of breast cancer, meet the eligibility requirements for poverty level, or are underinsured or uninsured may also be screened by the program.
Women who have been diagnosed with cancer through the Early Detection Program are provided care coordination and Medicaid enrollment assistance through the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Women who are not eligible for the Early Detection Program are directed to screening, diagnostic, and treatment services in their local community. National organizations, such as Susan G. Koman and the American Breast Cancer Foundation, provide breast cancer screening in some Florida locations for both men and women in need of financial assistance.Learn about Post Screening Medicaid Eligibility
Prostate cancer is among the most common cancers diagnosed in men, with over 3 million new cases in the United States and 12,000 new cases in Florida reported annually.
- Age 40: Talk with a health care provider about screening if you are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65.
- Age 50: Talk with a health care provider about the pros and cons of screening for prostate cancer to determine if it is the right choice for you.
Lung cancer is both the most frequently diagnosed and most lethal cancer in Florida.
- Ages 55-80: The United States Preventive Service Task Force recommends annual lung cancer screening for adults with a 20 pack-year smoking history.
Studies show that current and former heavy tobacco smokers who have an annual low-dose computed tomography scan lower their risk of dying from lung cancer by 15-20%, compared to an annual chest X-ray exam.
Colon and Rectal Cancer
Colon and rectal cancers are two of the most frequently diagnosed, per Federal Data.
- Age 45-75: Schedule a regular screening to manage risk.
- Ages 76-85: Talk with your health care provider about whether continuing to get screened is right for you. When deciding, consider your own preferences, overall health, and past screening history.
Cancers in children, including adolescents, are often more difficult to recognize because early symptoms may be nonspecific compared to adult cancers. While most adult cancers result from lifestyle factors, the causes of childhood cancers are unknown.
Parents should schedule regular health checkups for their children, and be alert to any unusual or persisting symptoms, including:
- Unusual mass or swelling;
- Unexplained paleness and/or loss of energy;
- Sudden tendency to bruise;
- Persistent, localized pain or limping;
- Prolonged fever or illness;
- Frequent headaches, often with vomiting;
- Sudden eye or vision changes;
- And/or excessive, rapid weight loss.
Pediatric Cancer Resources
Live Like Bella offers financial assistance with medical copays and basic needs such as gas, groceries, utilities and more for families impacted by pediatric cancer. They also work closely with families to offer memorial support. Visit Live Like Bella
Passport for Care allows pediatric cancer survivors and their health care team to support survivors’ health needs into adulthood by adapting their treatment plan. Visit Passport For Care
The Childhood Cancer Project aims to advance current cancer research and explore new ways to cure, control and prevent disease by funding research that improves outcomes for children with cancer. Visit the Childhood Cancer Project
The Kids Cancer Foundation assists pediatric cancer patients and their families by offering pediatric oncology patient care navigation, child enrichment programs, and educational advocacy. These include family support services such as tutoring, family socials, kids’ night out, and gift card assistance. Visit the Kids Cancer Foundation
The Childhood Cancer Foundation in Volusia County provides financial assistance to families of pediatric cancer patients through vouchers that pay for gas, meals, clothing, cell phone services and more. Visit the Childhood Cancer Foundation
The Jessica June Children’s Cancer Foundation is a pediatric cancer charity and foundation that provides emergency financial assistance for pediatric cancer patients in need of basic necessities. The foundation serves children in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, and Pinellas Counties. Visit Jessica June Children’s Cancer Foundation
The Children’s Cancer Center serves pediatric cancer patients and their families with emotional, financial and educational support programs ranging from art therapy, counseling, FLIGHT camp, and more. Visit the Children's Cancer Center
Please see the American Cancer Society’s resources here.
Leukemia is a cancer of the early blood-forming tissues like bone marrow or the lymphatic system, typically affecting white blood cells which help your body fight infections. There are several types of leukemia, which are divided based on growth speed: acute (faster) or chronic (slower), that may be more common among different age groups.
Symptoms or signs of leukemia may vary. If you notice these symptoms, talk to your doctor:
- Fever or chills
- Persistent fatigue, weakness
- Frequent or severe infections
- Losing weight unintentionally
- Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Recurrent nosebleeds
- Tiny red spots in your skin (petechiae)
- Excessive sweating, especially at night
- Bone pain or tenderness
Lymphoma is a general term for cancers that start in the lymph system (the tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infections). The two main kinds of lymphoma are:
- Hodgkin lymphoma which spreads orderly from one group of lymph nodes to another.
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma which spreads through the lymphatic system in a non-orderly way.
Specific individuals are at higher risk of lymphoma, including:
- Men are more likely than women to develop lymphoma.
- Individuals who are white are more likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Rates of Hodgkin lymphoma are highest among teens and young adults (ages 15 to 39 years), and among older adults (ages 75 years or older).
Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma typically include swollen lymph nodes, especially in the part of the body where the lymphoma starts to grow. If you have any of them, talk to your doctor:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Night sweats
- Feeling tired
- Weight loss
Tumors develop due to the uncontrolled growth of cells in the brain. While the cause of brain cancer can often be unknown, exposure to radiation and a family history of brain tumors may increase your risk.
If possible, ensure your health care provider is apprised of your family’s medical history. Symptoms include:
- Headaches that don’t subside with over-the-counter medications
- Impaired coordination or balance
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty in routine activities like talking and reading
- Nausea or vomiting
- Memory loss
- Weakness in limbs, face, or side of the body
Cervical and Ovarian Cancer
Regular health screenings are essential to maintaining awareness of your gynecological health. Talk to your doctor about what screenings are right for you based on family history or other possible risk factors.
Women should always address any irregularities with their health care provider, including, but not limited to:
- Abnormal bleeding or discharge
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Longer or heavier menstrual periods
- Abdominal pressure
Cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer in women worldwide. Each year in Florida, over 1,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 300 die from the disease.
Prevention and Screening
The Papanicolaou test (Pap test) and an HPV test can help prevent cervical cancer or find it in the early stages. If you have a low income or do not have health insurance, you may be able to get free or low-cost screening through the Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
- All women: Know the benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to cervical cancer screening and risk factors.
- Women ages 21 to 29: Start getting regular Pap tests and follow your provider’s screening recommendations based on your results.
- Women ages 30 to 65: Based on your testing history, you may only need a Pap test and/or HPV test every 3 to 5 years.
- Women over 65: Based on your testing history, you may no longer need additional screenings.
Cervical cancer is highly curable when found and treated early. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. Check with your physician to determine if you are a candidate for the HPV vaccine.
Ovarian cancer, which forms in the ovaries or fallopian tubes, is the second most common gynecologic cancer in the United States. In 2019 there were 1,597 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed in Florida, with half among women 63 years old and older.
Several factors can affect a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer, including:
- Family history of ovarian cancer, BRCA1 or BRCA2
- Advanced age
Talk to your health care provider about what screening tests may be appropriate for you.
Head, Neck, Throat and Mouth Cancers
Head, Neck and Throat Cancers
Head, neck, and throat cancers account for approximately 4% of all cancers in the United States and usually begin in the cells that line the surfaces of the head and neck, like those inside the mouth, throat, voice box and nasal cavity. Alcohol and tobacco use are the two most common risk factors for head and neck cancers.
Avoiding alcohol and tobacco is the best way to lower your risk of getting head or neck cancer. If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider.
- A lump or thickening in the throat
- Trouble or pain when swallowing food
- Persistent pain in the throat
- Pain or ringing in the ears
- Blocked sinuses or sinus infections that don’t respond to antibiotics
- Problems with dentures
Oral cancers originate in the front two-thirds of the tongue, the gums, the lining of the cheeks, lips, the bottom of the mouth under the tongue, the top of the mouth and a small area of gum behind the wisdom teeth. If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your dental provider:
- A white or red sore on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth that does not heal
- Swelling in the jaw
- A lump in the gums or lining of the mouth
- Pain or problems with dentures
An oral cancer screening is an essential part of each dental checkup. Talk to your dental provider to discuss these screenings.
Approximately 25,000 men and 19,000 women get liver cancer in the United States each year. Hepatitis C is a risk factor for developing living cancer, and over 150,000 Floridians are living with Hepatitis C.
- Swollen abdomen
- Pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen or on the right side
- Hard lump on the right side of the abdomen
- Pain near the right shoulder or on back
- Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes
- Unexplained weight loss or tiredness
- Easy bruising or bleeding
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Florida’s skin cancer rate is higher than the national rate of 23 people per 100,000. When enjoying the sunshine, ensuring sun protection is an everyday habit that will help with avoiding sunburn and reduce the risk of skin cancer. There are three major types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Melanoma, the least common, causes the most deaths because it is more likely to spread to other body parts.
Anyone can get skin cancer however, higher risk factors include:
- A lighter natural skin color
- Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun
- Blue or green eyes
- Blonde or red hair
- Certain types and high quantity of moles
- A family or personal history of skin cancer
- Older age
A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer – this could be a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole. Not all skin cancers look the same. Talk to your health care provider if you notice changes such as these in your skin or notice any of the signs of melanoma:
ABCDEs of Melanoma moles & spots:
Asymmetrical: Does it have an irregular shape with two parts that look very different?
Border: Is the border irregular or jagged?
Color: Is the color uneven?
Diameter: Is it larger than the size of a pea?
Evolving: Has it changed during the past few weeks or months?
While the causes of thyroid cancer are unknown, some risks include:
- Getting too much radiation around the neck area, especially when you are young
- Having certain genetic conditions inherited from parents
Talk to your health care provider immediately if you have any of these symptoms. Don’t wait until the symptoms get worse.
- A lump or swelling on the side of the neck is the most common symptom.
- Having trouble breathing
- Having trouble swallowing
- Having a hoarse voice
Florida Consortium of National Cancer Institute Centers Program
The Florida Consortium of National Cancer Institute Centers Program is established to enhance the quality and competitiveness of cancer care in this state, further a statewide biomedical research strategy directly responsive to the health needs of Florida’s citizens, and capitalize on the potential educational opportunities available to its students (Florida Statute 381.915). Florida-based cancer centers are eligible to join if they are recognized by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as NCI-designated cancer centers, NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers, or cancer centers working toward achieving NCI designation.
The three categories of Florida cancer centers to be funded are:
- NCI-designated cancer center and comprehensive cancer center: Moffit Cancer Center
- NCI-designated cancer center: University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
- Cancer center working toward achieving NCI designation: University of Florida Health Cancer Center
The Biomedical Research Program
In 2001, the Florida Legislature recognized the need to support innovative research conducted in academic and private institutions throughout the state.
The Florida Department of Health Biomedical Research Program administers research grant projects through three research programs (per Florida Statutes 381.922 and 215.5602):
- $10 million for the William B. “Bill Bankhead, Jr., and David Coley Cancer Research Program,
- $8 million for the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program, and
- $3 million for the Live Like Bella Pediatric Cancer Research Initiative.
Grants are awarded annually to support research institutions conducting cancer studies in prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Grantees are selected based on scientific merit, which is determined by independent peer review experts who are free from conflicts of interest.