Press Release: Society of Gynecologic Oncologists and Gynecologic Cancer Foundation Applaud FDA Approval of New Cervical Cancer Screening Option

Chicago, April 16, 2003—The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO) and the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF) support the recent positive step by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow the use of HPV testing in conjunction with the Pap test for cervical cancer screening for women 30 and older.

“This is exciting news for women and their physicians,” said Kenneth D. Hatch, M.D, President of SGO. “By combining these two tests, we can better determine which women are at risk of developing cervical cancer—and more important, which women are at little or no risk of the disease. If a woman has a normal Pap smear and tests negative for the HPV—the cause of virtually all cervical cancer—we can say with great assurance that she will not develop cervical cancer in the near future.” Dr. Hatch is the head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Arizona.

Based on FDA approval, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recently recommended that the combination of HPV DNA testing for high-risk HPV types, together with a Pap test, be considered as an alternative for routine screening in women age 30 and older. The ACS’s recommendation was based on studies using Digene’s hc2TM HR HPVTM DNA Test.

Worldwide, cervical cancer affects more than 400,000 women annually and, after breast cancer, is the second most common malignancy found in women. In the United States, there are an estimated 13,000 cases of cervical cancer resulting in approximately 4,100 deaths each year.

Dr. Hatch also noted, “The FDA approval of the first significant change in how we screen women for cervical cancer in over 50 years means that we are one step closer to achieving our ultimate goal—the elimination of cervical cancer as a cause of death among women in America.”

“When cervical cancer is detected early, it is virtually 100% curable. This approach to cervical cancer screening allows us the opportunity to determine which women over age 30 are at virtually no risk for cervical cancer in the next two to three years,” said GCF Chairman Karl C. Podratz, MD, Ph.D. Roughly one half of the cases of cervix cancer in the U.S. occur in women who do not get regular Pap tests. “Our Foundation is committed to ensuring that women are educated about the importance of screening so that we can eliminate cervical cancer.” Dr. Podratz is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Mayo Clinic.

The SGO is a national medical specialty organization of physicians who are trained in the comprehensive management of women with malignancies of the reproductive tract. Its purpose is to improve the care of women with gynecologic cancer by encouraging research, disseminating knowledge which will raise the standards of practice in the prevention and treatment of gynecologic malignancies and cooperating with other organizations interested in women’s health care, oncology and related fields.

The Society’s membership is primarily comprised of gynecologic oncologists, as well as other related medical specialists such as, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and pathologists. SGO members provide multidisciplinary cancer care including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, supportive care and surgery. More information on the SGO can be found at www.sgo.org.

The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation provides information on the leading types of cancer including gynecologic cancers—ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer and cervical cancer. Visit www.wcn.org to read about cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancer survivor stories and gather additional information on cancer statistics, graphs and charts, as well as clinical trials for cancer and new cancer treating drugs.

Spotlight

This special section in Self Magazine features a GYN surgeon and 34-year-old (at the time of diagnosis) patient.

Awareness

Check out CervivorTV’s new webisode: 5th National Race to End Women’s Cancer. Hosted by the fabulous cervivor herself, Tamika Felder! Click here.

Research

The Foundation’s research award winners will be notified in January. Thank you to all who sent in their applications.

Education

The Foundation for Women’s Cancer is pleased to announce its upcoming FREE Telephone Education Workshop Dec. 18 on Cervical Cancer. For more information, click here.