May 1, 2007

Cervical Cancer

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

I have exciting news for all of you!  For the first time in history, we now have a vaccine that can prevent a type of cancer.  The FDA recently approved a vaccine that will protect women from the devastative effects of cervical cancer.  For those of us that have been working towards a cure, this was truly a cause to celebrate.

In the next year, over 10,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States.  In that time, over 3,700 women will die from this disease.  Worldwide, Cervical Cancer is the second most common cancer among women.  Nearly half of all females who are diagnosed with cervical cancer are between the ages of 35 and 55, a time where their responsibility to their family and economic productivity is at its peak.

African American women in Wisconsin are nearly twice as likely as white women to have Cervical Cancer, and they die from Cervical Cancer at more than twice the rate.  I thank God that we now have the power to fight back!

The cervical cancer vaccine was approved in June for use in girls as young as 9, up to age 26, and has been hailed as a breakthrough in cancer prevention. It prevents infections from some strains of the sexually transmitted Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.  The vaccine has been shown in clinical trials to be 100% effective at preventing disease from two types of HPV.

Last year, I was able to pass legislation declaring January as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.  My colleagues and I recognized the importance of moving forward on this issue.  Now we are ready to take the next step. 

In the coming months, we will be working to make sure that every young girl is provided with the opportunity to receive the cervical cancer vaccine.  Regardless of race or income, our daughters should be protected from this deadly threat. 

The legislation that we have created will help to educate the public about this groundbreaking vaccine, and it’s potential.  Currently all major insurance providers cover this vaccine, and funding has been made available so that public clinics can provide the vaccine at little or no cost.  I urge you to speak with your doctor about this vaccination, and take the necessary steps to help eliminate this threat.

For hundreds of years cancer has plagued our communities.  It has taken our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, and friends.  Now at last, we have the ability to fight back.  I hope you will join with me and my colleagues as make Wisconsin a leader in the fight to end cervical cancer.