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Report on health has good, bad news

Floridians do well at getting screened for cancer, but the suicide and infant death rates are worse than average.

Associated Press
Published April 5, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - Floridians do a better job than people in many other states at getting screened for some types of cancer, a new study shows. And the state's cancer death rate is lower than the national average.

But the percentage of babies born with low birth weight, the infant death rate and the suicide rate in Florida are all worse than the national average.

Overall, Florida does worse than most other states in more areas than it does better, according to a federal government survey of health care quality measures released Monday.

The National Health Care Quality Report was compiled by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

On the good-news side, people in Florida seem to do better than people in many other states at getting preventive checks and screening for a number of diseases. They do a relatively good job at getting their cholesterol checked, and the state is above average in the percentage of women who get prenatal care in the first three months of pregnancy.

In cancer screening, nearly eight in 10 women in Florida older than 40 have had a mammogram recently - above the national average. And the rate of breast cancer deaths is better than the national average. "One reason we do particularly well on screenings for mammograms is because of our older population - older women tend to be much more religious about getting screenings, as they should be," said Paul Hull, an American Cancer Society vice president in Florida.

Older men in Florida are good at getting screened, too. The percentage of men over 50 who have had certain tests to indicate colon cancer in the last two years is nearly 40 percent, well above the national average. Another statistic that may be related: Deaths from colorectal cancers are also well below the national average, with Florida in the top 10 of states in preventing deaths from the disease, the report found.

One exception in Florida was the state's rate of lung cancer deaths, which at 56 per 100,000 people in 2001 was worse than the national average.

The percentage of newborn babies weighing less than 5.5 pounds - considered low - is just more than 8 percent, worse than the national average. The infant death rate in Florida was 7.3 per 1,000 live births in 2001, also worse than the national average. And the suicide rate in Florida, at 13.5 per 100,000 people, is worse than the national rate.

Other measures recorded in the data show three out of four Floridians had their blood cholesterol checked in the last four years, above the national average; the state fares about average in the percent of children age 19 to 35 months who get all recommended vaccines; and the state was below average in the percent of people older than 65 who got a flu vaccine in 2002, the last year for which the federal government has statistics.

[Last modified April 5, 2005, 01:30:21]

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