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Velazquez Calls for Life-Saving Education

Velázquez Calls for Life-Saving Education
May 24, 2007
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Late yesterday, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) introduced HR 2468, the Ovarian and Cervical Cancer Awareness Act of 2007, to educate women in New York City, and across the nation, on the risks of these deadly diseases and the life-saving screening methods available to them. 

"Every year, thousands of women lose their battles to ovarian and cervical cancers,” said Congresswoman Velázquez.  “Frequently, these losses could have been prevented if women, especially low-income women, were properly warned about the dangers of these diseases and the preemptive steps available to stop them."

Ovarian and cervical cancers are the two most deadly forms of gynecological cancer.  Unlike some other types of cancer, ovarian and cervical cancers are extremely difficult to detect because most of the time symptoms are mild. The National Cancer Institute estimates that there will be 22,430 new Ovarian Cancer cases and 11,150 new Cervical Cancer cases in the US in 2007.  In the same year, they estimate that there will be 15,280 deaths as a result of Ovarian Cancer and 3,670 Cervical Cancer deaths.  According to the New York State Department of Health, in New York State alone approximately 1,020 women died yearly from ovarian cancer and another 300 from cervical cancer from 2000-2004.    

“Too many of us have lost friends and loved ones to ovarian and cervical cancers,” said Congresswoman Velázquez.  “While medical breakthroughs have occurred over the last few decades, they are meaningless if women are not guarded with proper knowledge of these cancers—and this bill is an important step in doing just that.”

The Ovarian and Cervical Cancer Awareness Act of 2007 aims to enhance the existing public service announcement campaign to focus more directly on ovarian and cervical cancer screening.  Screening looks for cancer before a person has any symptoms, helping to find cancer at an early stage.  When cancer is found early, it is easier to treat.  By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread. This legislation will provide women the knowledge they need to make proper decisions concerning their health through promotion of early detection methods, raising awareness about the importance of frequent consultation with a physician and the importance of screening.    Of the four main methods used to screen ovarian and cervical cancer (pelvic exams, ultrasounds, Papsmears and blood tests), Papsmears are part of routine annual gynecological exams.  This legislation instructs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to target low income women who are often the least likely to have access to treatment and to know about screening. 

“Cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence,” said Congresswoman Velázquez. “We can fight this horrific disease through access to information and increased awareness.  Proper education in combination with medical breakthroughs can decrease cancer fatalities so that fewer families have to experience loss.  I will continue the fight to do just that.”

This is the third in a series of bills introduced by Congresswoman Velazquez’s in an effort to promote the health and awareness of residents throughout New York, including The Community Environmental Equity Act and the The Healthy Foods for Healthy Living Act.