Making an Impact in Our Community

Recent Cancer Center community outreach efforts

The UF Health Cancer Center’s mission is to prevent, detect, treat and ultimately cure cancer while addressing the unique challenges of the cancer burden faced by the population the Center serves.

Our catchment area is largely rural, with many small towns and several small cities such as Gainesville, Ocala and Tallahassee. It is characterized by many counties with high rates of persistent poverty, an aging population, particularly in the retirement communities in the south, and a large number of people who have no health insurance. Our highest mortality tumor, lung cancer, has the highest incidence and highest mortality in the United States. The cancer burden in our catchment area is largely borne by the non-Hispanic white population, which is, on average, 10 years older than Black or Hispanic individuals. This implies there are great opportunities to screen and prevent cancer in the younger population groups. Our region is additionally characterized by the highest cancer burden in the state, with cancer being the leading cause of death. Our counties have high rates of advanced-stage cancer due to the lack of health care access, lack of screening and increased risk factors such as cigarette smoking and obesity.

The UF Health Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) aims to understand and address the challenges faced by the Cancer Center’s unique 23-county service area. This office is designed to have bidirectional conversations with our community to better understand the cancer burden in our catchment area and to meet their needs, in terms of prevention, screening, financial implications and the long-term outcomes of cancer. Through various community events, the Cancer Center continues to be committed to reducing cancer-related health disparities and amplifying community strengths.

Cervical Cancer Awareness Webinars

January was Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. The University of Florida Health Cancer Center and the Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) Steering Committee invited attendees to join a virtual Cervical Cancer Town Hall that discussed cervical cancer screening and survivor stories from COE Steering Committee members. This event kicked off a cervical cancer webinar series.


Project CONTINUITY presented “The Cervical Circle,” a virtual town hall where speakers discussed health care in the Black community along with the existing concern that cervical cancer is killing Black women at higher rates than any other race.


Leading Ladies Brunch

On Saturday, March 12, the UF Health Cancer Center Office of Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) hosted a cervical cancer awareness event, “Leading Ladies Brunch.” This event was created by the COE team and the Cervical Circle, the community steering committee of Project CONTINUITY.

The event welcomed female pastors, pastor’s wives and other faith community leaders. Pastor Gerard Duncan, the community lead for the Cervical Circle, welcomed attendees and Sarah Szurek, Ph.D., introduced Project CONTINUITY. During this brunch, there were stories told by the Cervical Circle, including Ms. Shereka Nicole’s story of her battle with cervical cancer.

Ms. Chanae Jackson spoke on why screening is important, Tarcha Rentz, Ph.D., spoke on how screening can be accessed and Ms. Kandra Albury spoke on what can be done to inform others about screening. Grant Harrell, M.D., was also in attendance to discuss the Mobile Outreach Clinic and the services provided. This event was a great success and informative for community members on the importance of cervical cancer prevention. 


In the media

First Ladies Discuss Cervical Cancer

The Gainesville Sun

Power Over Cancer | “A Conversation With the East Gainesville Community”

East Gainesville, Cancer Center leaders talk ways to ensure respect, comfort

Q&A with Carolyn Tucker, Ph.D.

Carolyn Tucker, Ph.D.

What was the purpose of this event? 

Power Over Cancer is an event series that aims to provide an opportunity for cancer leaders, researchers and clinicians at the UF Health Cancer Center and members of the East Gainesville community to share ways to increase diversity, equity, inclusion and cultural sensitivity in the cancer prevention, care and research that occurs at or with the support of the center. 

Why is this topic so important for members of the East Gainesville Community? 

Many members of the East Gainesville community are not aware of the excellent cancer care, cancer prevention services and research that occur at the UF Health Cancer Center. These community members could greatly benefit from the Cancer Center’s care and services. The members of East Gainesville should feel that the Cancer Center is a culturally sensitive place where they feel respected and comfortable — and that they will get services they can trust.

The UF Health Cancer Center must prove its commitment to cultural sensitivity, diversity, equity and inclusion in all that it does and in its staffing and physical environment. The Power Over Cancer initiative is designed to give members of the East Gainesville Community the opportunity to learn about this commitment and to share ways to better prove this commitment.  

“Because Black citizens in the East Gainesville community and beyond are more likely to get various cancers than individuals who are not Black, it is important that the Cancer Center strengthens its role in addressing these disparities.”

Carolyn Tucker, Ph.D.


SPOT: Sun Safety Practices For Outdoor Workers

SPOT is a heat and sun safety educational intervention for farmworkers. Program participants learned about body temperature, heat-related illnesses and the harmful effects of sun exposure. This COE FarmReach event was collaborative event with IFAS extension agent Wendy Mussoline.

Latrina Massey, COE Community Health Resource Coordinator, provided sun safety education and Wendy Mussoline provided pesticide training to the staff at Singleton & Sons Farm while HealthStreet/CTSI provided COVID-19 vaccinations.

Social Determinants of Breast Cancer: Bridging the Gaps Symposium

The UF Health Cancer Center hosted “Social Determinants of Breast Cancer: Bridging the Gaps Symposium,” on April 4 with the aim of bringing together professionals from across the nation to increase community awareness and identify social factors that contribute to adverse breast cancer outcomes.