National Public Health Summit Targets Cervical Cancer Elimination
November 13, 2006
WASHINGTON/PRNewswire/ — Following the recent FDA approval of a breakthrough vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV) — the virus that causes cervical cancer — Women In Government, a non-profit, bi-partisan organization of women state legislators, recently held its second annual HPV & Cervical Cancer Summit to develop national strategies for eliminating cervical cancer in the United States that are built on screening and vaccination. The Summit is the nation””s largest cervical cancer gathering of state lawmakers, medical experts, advocates and public health officials. The event is supported in part by a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC).
“Cervical cancer is preventable and can be the first cancer that we eliminate,” said Susan Crosby, president of Women In Government. “Scientific breakthroughs, including a newly approved HPV vaccine and advanced screening options, such as HPV testing, are now available to help fight this disease. Our challenge is to ensure that all groups involved in the healthcare system work together to make sure women are educated about, have access to and utilize advanced and appropriate prevention strategies — regardless of socioeconomic status. By assembling diverse stakeholders, our annual HPV & Cervical Cancer Summit will help advance public policy and public health initiatives to make cervical cancer elimination a reality.”
The Summit is the latest step in Women In Government””s fight against cervical cancer, begun in 2004 when the organization launched the Challenge to Eliminate Cervical Cancer Campaign.The Campaign engages state legislators nationwide in policy and awareness initiatives to advance cervical cancer prevention efforts. To date, 45 states have introduced legislation or resolutions aimed at cervical cancer elimination.
Summit outcomes include strategies to: incorporate new and emerging technologies into cervical cancer prevention programs; overcome cultural, ethnic and economic disparities in prevention and treatment; and educate women about cervical cancer, HPV and the need for preventive measures.
An HPV vaccine was approved by the FDA in June for girls and women aged 9-26 and studies show it is 100 percent effective at preventing disease from the HPV types that account for 70 percent of all cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts. A second HPV vaccine, shown to be equally as effective against cervical cancer-causing HPV, is expected to be submitted to the FDA later this year. The federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has voted to recommend that the HPV vaccine be given routinely to all 11- and 12-year-old girls and to other age groups at a clinician””s discretion.
“Even with HPV vaccines, effective cervical cancer prevention strategies will also include screening,” said Ms. Crosby. “Screening will be critical to reach those women who are too old for or who do not receive the HPV vaccine, and to target the cervical cancer-causing HPV types not covered by the vaccine.”
The Pap test has helped to significantly reduce cervical cancer rates over the last 60 years. However, research shows that it is 51 percent to 85 percent accurate at identifying women with cervical cancer or its early signs, depending upon the type of Pap test used.
About Cervical Cancer
Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second leading cancer-killer of women, with almost a quarter-million deaths each year. In the U.S., the American Cancer Society estimates 9,710 women will be diagnosed with and more than 3,700 women will die of cervical cancer in 2006. According to the CDC, approximately 20 million people are currently infected with HPV, with 6.2 million new infections occurring annually and approximately 80 percent of sexually active women will be infected with HPV by age 50. For 90 percent of infected women, the virus is naturally cleared by the body and becomes undetectable within two years. However, persistent infection with “high-risk” types of HPV can cause cell changes that, untreated, can lead to cervical cancer.
About Women In Government
Women In Government is a national, 501(c)(3), non-profit, bi-partisan organization of women state legislators providing leadership opportunities, networking, expert forums and educational resources to address and resolve complex public policy issues. For more information, visitwww.womeningovernment.org
Source: Women In Government