July 27, 2007

Cervical Cancer Update

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

This was a great week for women all across Wisconsin!  On Tuesday, my colleagues and I unveiled our new cervical cancer prevention agenda.  We launched a statewide education effort that will young women take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer.  This was a huge first step towards making cervical cancer the first cancer eliminated in the U.S.

Each year over 11,000 women get cervical cancer, and almost half of these women will tragically die from this horrible disease.  Those who survive are often left with deep physical and psychological wounds, and many are no longer able to bear children.  Now that a vaccine has been developed to fight this disease, we can look forward to a day when cervical cancer is only a bad memory.

First, however, we must take action.  Women – especially young women – need to know that getting vaccinated, having regular pap smears and receiving treatment early give you an almost 100 percent chance of surviving cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is most prevalent among women who do not have access to necessary screenings and medical treatments. 

Women of color, especially, are disproportionately affected by this disease. In Wisconsin, African- American and Hispanic women are twice as likely as white women to be diagnosed with cervical cancer. Worse yet, they are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer.  As a state, we must take responsibility for ensuring access to all women, regardless of income or background.

Over the past few months, I have been working with parents, health professionals, community members and legislators on a new cervical cancer strategy. Our new cervical cancer bill and agenda is very simple: We must encourage young women to protect themselves by getting vaccinated and provide funding for preventative screenings and treatment that save lives.

The new vaccine is a ray of hope for so many young women; however, not everyone has ready access to this new vaccine. Over 93% of young people in Wisconsin get their required vaccinations. However, in Milwaukee, only 45% (less than half) of young people get their required vaccinations.

To all the young women out there: ASK YOUR DOCTOR and GET VACCINATED today. Call your doctor or local clinic to see when you or your daughter can get vaccinated. It could save your life or the life of someone you love.

This is the first step in our renewed fight to end cervical cancer. These revolutionary vaccines save lives, and we cannot allow any more people to die needless from this preventable form of cancer.