Website addresses need for local cancer resources

The Guardian
By Lauren Pollock, North Central Florida Cancer Control Collaborative Coordinator for the WellFlorida Council

Throughout the United States, African-Americans endure far worse health outcomes than other ethnicities for problems such as diabetes and heart disease. In the North Central Florida community, however, it is cancer outcomes for African-Americans that are among our region’s most pressing health issues.

According to a report by WellFlorida Council, a nonprofit health organization in Gainesville, the death rate of cancer in African-American residents in North Central Florida is higher than the Florida rates on all of the top ten cancer types. This is especially concerning for cancers where screening procedures exist, which include breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.

African-Americans in North Central Florida also have uniquely high death rates for lip, oral and pharynx cancer largely due to tobacco use. The death rate for African-Americans in this region is nearly 145 percent higher than the death rate for this cancer among African-Americans in the entire state of Florida.

“This level of disparity in cancer outcomes — i.e. the likelihood of surviving cancer if you’re African-American and live in North Central Florida — indicates a need for improvement in cancer screening, education, awareness, access to healthcare services and other systemic issues,” said Jeff Feller, chief executive officer of WellFlorida Council.

To address some of these needs, our community can turn to the Cancer Resource Guide of North Central Florida. This free online guide is available at www.CancerResourceGuideNCF.org and is a service of WellFlorida and North Central Florida Cancer Control Collaborative (NCFCCC), which is part of a statewide initiative to reduce cancer in Florida.

The website links residents to resources for low and no cost cancer screenings, cancer support groups and financial support services throughout the region. It contains a variety of information including: summer camps for children with cancer; sources for breast prosthesis and wigs; and medical assistance for individuals who are uninsured or under-insured. There is also an entire section devoted to tobacco cessation information, which is especially valuable given the burden that African-Americans in our area face when it comes to tobacco-related cancers.

The Cancer Resource Guide was created to act as a real-time database, meaning the resources in the guide are continuously updated by those organizations providing the listings. Local organizations are encouraged to add their own cancer-related resources to the site by visiting www.CancerResourceGuideNCF.org and creating an account. Once you have an account, you may log on to update your listings as needed.

To learn more about NCFCCC and local cancer resources, visit The Cancer Resource Guide of North Central Florida at www.CancerResourceGuideNCF.org.

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WellFlorida Council, Inc. is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization created in 1969. We are the state designated local health council for 16 counties in North Central Florida and specialize in health-related consultancy for clients and projects throughout Florida.

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