Challenge to Eliminate Cervical Cancer Campaign
(WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2004) In conjunction with National Cervical Cancer Screening
Month in January, Women in Government -- representing state-level women elected
officials -- today launched the Challenge to Eliminate Cervical Cancer campaign.
Designed to help reduce the number of women who die each year of this highly
preventable disease, the campaign seeks to enlist state legislators across the
country in improving public education about cervical cancer and the virus shown
to cause it, as well as to broaden access to the most advanced screening tests
-- regardless of women's socioeconomic status.
"Cervical cancer rates have decreased significantly over the last 60 years
due largely to widespread use of the Pap test. However, each year,
12,200 women are still diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,100 die," says
Joy Newton, Women in Government's executive director. "Two key issues
traditionally held us back from eliminating this preventable disease:
we need more education and wider access to screening, and second, women need
to be screened with greater accuracy, so that early intervention is possible.
With the recent approval of a test for human papillomavirus, or HPV -- the
culprit behind virtually all cervical cancer cases -- we have a tremendous
opportunity to reduce the number of deaths still further, or even eliminate
them altogether. It is particularly important that we reach out to women
lower socioeconomic status, because they often have less access to information
and the latest medical tools."
Research shows that approximately half of all cervical cancer cases are in
women who have never been screened, and 10 percent are in women who have not
been screened in the last five years. However, the Pap smear's ability
to identify women with cervical cancer or its precursors ranges between 51 percent
and 85 percent, according to studies. Recent research shows that HPV testing
is more effective at identifying women needing early intervention to stop the
disease. However, a new report in the Jan. 15, 2004 issue of the medical
journal Cancer suggests that women lack important information about HPV
and its role in the development of cervical cancer.
Fran Drescher, the actress known to all of us as the lovable Nanny from the
hit CBS sitcom, and now author of the New York Times best-seller, Cancer
Schmancer, which chronicles her own battle with uterine cancer, helped Women
in Government kick off the new campaign with its membership at the group's State
Directors meeting last week. "This year of 2004 is of critical importance
for the future of women's health care in America. We are on the precipice
of a new dawn -- a time when cervical cancer can be eradicated from all of our
lives forever. This is the first step towards winning the war against
gynecologic cancers. And who better to fight this battle than our Representatives?
I applaud Women in Government for making American women's health care a priority.
We are counting on each of you to carry the torch of wellness into a healthier,
cervical cancer-free tomorrow," said Ms. Drescher.
"HPV DNA testing offers new hope that we can finally eliminate cervical
cancer," said Marie Savard, MD, an internist, champion of patients' rights
and author of two books on patient empowerment, noting that an HPV test is now
approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for routine screening of women
age 30 and over in conjunction with a Pap test. "By determining their
HPV status, women can be monitored more closely to ensure that serious cervical
disease is not missed. In addition, women who are HPV-negative can be
reassured by knowing that they are not at current risk of cervical cancer. This
is extremely empowering for women.
In 2003, Women in Government established a Cervical Cancer Task Force to identify
ways state officeholders can facilitate better education and screening programs
for women. Since that time, members already have passed legislation in
North Carolina and introduced a resolution in Indiana, with more legislative
efforts underway in other states. In addition, Women in Government has
developed an HPV/cervical cancer education program for state-level legislators
and health officials. Women in Government is a bi-partisan, non-profit, educational
association of elected and appointed women in state government. It promotes
informed policy making and the leadership role of women by providing issue education
and opportunities for idea and information exchange.
Created: 1/13/2004  - Donnica Moore, M.D.