Health experts and actress highlight major breakthrough in fight against cervical cancer

Washington, D.C. -- Experts from the nation's leading health organizations and former Saturday Night Live actress Julia Sweeney today focused attention on a major new breakthrough in the battle against cervical cancer. In a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill, sponsored by the Society for Women's Health Research, experts from the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation delivered consensus that human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus, is now shown to cause virtually all cervical cancers. They also highlighted several medical organizations' new guidelines that incorporate HPV DNA testing, recently approved by the FDA, into routine cervical cancer screening.

"Never before has there been such a rapid rate of discovery in the field of cervical cancer prevention, screening and treatment," said Robert Giuntoli, M.D., representing the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation. "Advances such as liquid-based Pap tests, HPV testing and new research studies have given us great hope. However, we still need to inform women about the critical importance of receiving early and regular screenings for cervical cancer." Giuntoli cited the recent "2003 State of the State of Gynecologic Cancer: First Annual Report to the Women of America" issued by the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, which details the progress that has taken place in cervical cancer detection and treatment over the past year.

The new HPV DNA test was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this past spring for use in conjunction with a Pap test in primary cervical cancer for women 30 years and older. To date, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Cancer Society and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals have each updated their screening guidelines and information to include HPV DNA testing in primary cervical cancer screening.

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Contact: Amy Hoskins
Society for Women's Health Research

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