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More Puerto Ricans are being diagnosed with thyroid cancer than ever before. According to the American Cancer Society, women are three times more likely to develop the disease than men.

Dr. Julie Hallanger-Johnson, program leader, Endocrine Oncology Program.

In an effort to help educate the Puerto Rican community about cancer prevention and early detection, Moffitt Cancer Center hosts biannual events in San Juan titled From Moffitt to Puerto Rico Conversations about Cancer. On May 4, Dr. Julie Hallanger-Johnson joined the ranks of experts who have visited the island to help spread awareness. 

More than 140 guests learned how best to manage thyroid cancer nodules. Nearly 100 attendees received free head, neck and oral cancer screening at the event. Of those who were screened, 13 abnormal findings were detected.

The event marked the fifteenth time an expert from Moffitt has presented on a cancer related topic. Since 2011, Moffitt physicians have visited Puerto Rico twice a year to provide cancer education to the community.

Moffitt’s presence in Puerto Rico goes far beyond these biannual events. In 2011, the cancer center opened a blood and marrow transplant evaluation and follow-up clinic at the Metro Medical Center in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Doctors  Melissa Alsina and José Ochoa-Bayona travel to the island once a month to see patients who have been referred by physicians as candidates for a blood and marrow transplants.

In addition, Moffitt has been collaborating with cancer researchers in Puerto Rico for more than ten years. The geographic proximity and large Hispanic population in the state of Florida and Puerto Rico have driven the creation of an academic partnership between the Ponce Health Sciences University and Moffitt. The complementary expertise at both institutions provides a synergistic means of studying cancer in Puerto Rico.

To learn more about Moffitt’s efforts in Puerto Rico and for information on upcoming events, visit