Cervical Cancer Survivors, Health Advocates Identify Prevention Strategies at Conference
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 17, 2012) − Public health officials, cervical cancer survivors and public health advocates from across the state met in Bowling Green, May 14-15, 2012, for Cervical Cancer-Free Kentucky’s (CCFKY’s) second annual statewide conference. CCFKY is an initiative developed by the Rural Cancer Prevention Center at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health with the goal of reducing the burden of cervical cancer in the Commonwealth.
The conference was designed to identify strategies to reduce cervical cancer disparities through prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, appropriate and timely screening and diagnosis, access to follow-up care and treatment, and changes in health policy related to cervical cancer.
Shelley Pounders, a cervical cancer survivor from Bowling Green, led the meeting by sharing her personal story. Pounders told the audience she had a Pap test following the birth of her child, but lost her health insurance, and did not go for her annual exam until nearly five years later when she had insurance again. A pap test detected her cervical cancer at an early stage. With follow-up treatment, Pounders has been cervical cancer-free for two years, one month and 15 days.
Dr. Connie White, previous director of the Division of Women's Health, Department for Public Health and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, explained the American Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) HPV vaccination recommendations that apply to adolescent girls and boys. For more information on ACIP guidelines and eligibility guidelines for the Vaccines for Children program, see http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/downloads/resolutions/10-11-1-hpv.pdf.
The importance of HPV vaccination for primary cervical cancer prevention resonated with Pounders. When Pounders was asked whether she would vaccinate her young daughter, she responded, “It’s not a question… it can save her life.”
“I hope everyone who is eligible to get this life-saving vaccine, gets it. I am especially proud that the vaccine was created by a team that included researchers from the James Brown Cancer Center in Louisville,” said Madeline Abramson, who delivered the keynote address.
“With the availability of HPV vaccination and Pap testing for early detection and treatment, we have two ways to fight cervical," said Dr. Baretta Casey, director of CCFK. "There is no reason for Kentucky to continue to have one of the highest mortality rates in the country now. We have the tools to change that.”
White also addressed the importance of regular Pap testing, despite changes in recent cervical cancer screening guidelines. “Every women in Kentucky needs to know that free Pap tests, low-cost HPV vaccines and follow up care are available through county health departments.”
For additional information, please call (859) 218-2062 or visit ccfky.org. Cervical Cancer-Free Kentucky is made possible by an unrestricted gift from GlaxoSmithKline.
Media Contact: Ann Blackford at (859) 323-6442