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DeLauro Promotes Gynecological Cancer Education Campaign

June 18, 2009
Press Release
Introduces legislation to renew Johanna’s Law and continue effort to stop preventable deaths from gynecological cancers

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn. – 3), a 23-year survivor of ovarian cancer, introduced the Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act of 2009 – also known as Johanna’s Law – to reauthorize the education campaign led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase the awareness and knowledge of health care providers and women with respect to gynecological cancers. The program has been funded for the past two years, allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to begin a national awareness campaign about the signs and symptoms of gynecologic cancers. The legislation to renew Johanna’s Law is being introduced with over 60 bipartisan cosponsors.

The idea for “Johanna’s Law,” was conceived by Sheryl Silver, who lost her sister, Johanna, to ovarian cancer following a three-and-a-half year battle with the disease, despite being a health conscious woman who visited the gynecologist regularly. Like many women, Johanna had symptoms of ovarian cancer which were missed by both her and her healthcare provider. “Caught early, a gynecological cancer does not have to prove deadly, yet for far too many women it is discovered too late,” said DeLauro. “Johanna’s Law recognizes something critical – that until we have accurate screening methods, public education is one of the most important weapons we have toward beating gynecologic cancers like ovarian, cervical and uterine cancer. By continuing this federal campaign to educate women and health care providers alike, we are taking a concrete step toward ensuring women know which symptoms to look for, what screening methods are available, and how to seek help before it is too late.”

Every hour, approximately 10 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer such as ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers. Each year, we lose over 26,000 of our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends to one of these terrible cancers. Yet research shows that many of those deaths could have been prevented if more women knew the risk factors and recognized the early symptoms of gynecologic cancers so that they could discuss them with their doctors. Ovarian cancer has a 90 percent survival rate if detected in Stage One and only a 20 percent survival rate if detected in Stage Three or Four.

“My sister Johanna might still be alive today if Johanna’s Law had existed before her diagnosis in 1997. Sadly it didn’t,” said Sheryl Silver, who proposed Johanna’s Law and founded the Alliance for Women’s Cancer Awareness. “Instead, not knowing the symptoms and risk factors of ovarian cancer led to a lengthy – and ultimately lethal –delay in Johanna’s ovarian cancer diagnosis. After learning how tragically common Johanna’s story was, I proposed Johanna’s Law to end the pervasive lack of public knowledge about ovarian cancer that had led to so much needless suffering and death. Through Johanna’s Law and its awareness campaign, women can learn the risk factors and symptoms of gynecologic cancers so they can take steps to lower their risk for these diseases and seek appropriate medical attention quickly should they ever experience any common symptoms.”