It’s time to stop leaving women behind when it comes to cervical cancer screening – USA Today

March has been a crazy busy month for Cervivor and for the visibility of cervical cancer prevention. An international awareness day! An editorial in a national newspaper! A piece of legislation introduced in Congress! As the month draws to a close, here is a recap:

An International Awareness Day


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The month kicked off with International HPV Awareness Day on March 4. The day featured online events, press conferences, webinars and more taking place around the world.

The awareness day may have come and gone, but the International Papillomavirus Society, the official sponsors of the day, have terrific posters and visuals you can download and share at any time. Their graphics can be be a great addition to your social media feeds!

An Editorial in a National Newspaper: USA Today

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Also in March, USA Today featured an editorial on the importance of cervical cancer prevention co-authored by Cervivor founder Tamika Felder and Anna Giuliano, Ph.D., the founding director of the Center for Immunization and Infection Research In Cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center. The editorial highlighted the need for more proactive screening in uninsured/underserved communities and expressed frustration at the lowering of cervical cancer screening goals in the recently-released “Healthy People 2030” national public health initiative. The editorial offered a strong call to action: 

“Decades of groundbreaking research have provided the tools to eliminate cervical cancer. Yet, every two hours a woman in the U.S. dies of this preventable cancer. It is time to stop leaving women behind and work collectively to get every woman, regardless of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, up to date with cervical cancer screening. Let’s create a national goal to achieve cervical cancer elimination, a strategy for the U.S. to accomplish this goal and a revision of the Healthy People 2030 objectives.”

Share the article on your social media feeds. Make sure to highlight your personal passion for this issue and your involvement with Cervivor!

Legislation Introduced in Congress

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The “Promoting Resources to Expand Vaccination, Education and New Treatments for HPV (PREVENT HPV) Cancers Act”  was introduced in Congress in March.  Cervivor was quoted in the press release announcing the bill. This legislation would, if enacted in the future, address many of the education and health equity needs surrounding cervical cancer prevention.

Our voices and our stories and our advocacy will be important to move this bill forward. The introduction of a piece of legislation is only the start of a long chain of legislative steps that can ultimately lead to bill passage (or not). Bill passage can take years. Bills can get folded into other legislation. Bills can get debated by committee but never elevated to the House or Senate floor for a vote. In this case, the bill was sent to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, but so far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate. So there is a long road ahead… 

On the other hand, the introduction of a bill is itself a win! It means that members of Congress and their staff are paying attention to this issue, and Congressional attention can translate to media attention and enhanced media coverage. It means that there will be future conversations as the Congressional sponsors seek other co-signers and supporters. We at Cervivor, are in it for the long haul, advocating and  sharing our stories.

Parents Deserve to Know

Parents Deserve to Know

By Kate Yglesias Houghton, President & CEO
Critical Mass: The Young Adult Cancer Alliance

Each year 70,000 teens and young adults will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States. We make up 8% of all cancer diagnoses. But young Americans impacted by cancer have seen little to no improvement in survival rates over the last four decades even as older adult mortality rates have declined by 25% since the 1990s.

Recently I joined a meeting in Washington, DC with Cervivor and other cervical cancer advocacy organizations. They shared some exciting news: we are on the brink of eliminating all deaths from cervical cancer.

My heart skipped a beat but my head reminded me of the cold, hard facts: cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death for young women between 20 and 39.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) has been identified as the cause of 90% of cervical cancers and 70% of oral cancers found in the throat, neck, and tongue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, “about 39,800 HPV-associated cancers occur in the United States each year: about 23,300 among women, and about 16,500 among men.”

Like polio, we can protect our children and grandchildren from HPV and HPV-related cancers. It is not only a vaccine recommended by countless public and private organizations, but available at no additional cost to the patient or state.

Unfortunately, parents still do not know that this vaccine is available and most effective given to children between the ages of 11 and 14. The American Cancer Society noted in their Cancer Facts & Figures 2018 report, “immunization rate remains low in the US; in 2016, 50% of girls 13-17 years – and only 36% at age 13 – were up to date with the HPV vaccination series.”

Legislation to require the HPV vaccine for school admission has been signed into law in Virginia and District of Columbia. In Rhode Island, the HPV vaccine was added to the list of immunizations needed for school entry and now 70% of children in that state are protected against this incurable, cancer-causing virus.

Parents deserve to know that they can protect their children from an incurable, cancer-causing virus. Adding the HPV vaccine to the list of immunizations needed to attend school is a seamless and already regulated way to get the information in the hands of parents.

Recently  I got to stand with Florida state Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, Florida state Representative Amy Mercado, and Moffitt Cancer Center AYA Program Director Dr. Damon Reed in support of SB 1558 & HB 1343, the Women’s Cancer Prevention Act. This bill would add the HPV vaccine to the Florida list of required immunizations.

It is hard to explain, as a cancer survivor who grew up in South Florida, how it feels to know speaking up for young men and women in my home state could protect them from ever battling a disease that nearly took my life away. Please join me by adding your name to our petition. Let’s end cervical cancer for good.

About the author:

Kate Yglesias Houghton is President and CEO of Critical Mass: The Young Adult Cancer Alliance. Prior to joining Critical Mass, Kate served a senior staff member to a Chief Deputy Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives and leader of the national Democratic Party. In 2011, she served on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, promoting the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. While on the campaign trail, Kate was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at just 27 years old. She successfully completed treatment over four months before rejoining the campaign. Kate teamed up with Critical Mass in 2013 and is now focused on ensuring the unique needs of Americans diagnosed with cancer between 15 and 39 years of age are fully recognized by decision makers from hospital administrators to policymakers in Washington, DC.




“HPV and Cancer.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Mar. 2017,
“The HPV Vaccine: Access and Use in the U.S.” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 19 Oct. 2017,
Cancer Facts & Figures 2018. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2018.
“Cancer statistics, 2018.” Siegel, Rebecca L., et al. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 4 Jan. 2018,
“HPV Vaccine: State Legislation and Statues.” National Conference on State Legislatures, 10 July 2017.
“Despite benefits, vaccination rate for HPV remains low in Florida.” Girona, Jose Patino. Tampa Bay Times. 25 January 2017.’ Support for School-Entry Requirements for Human Papillomavirus Vaccination: A National Study
William A. Calo, Melissa B. Gilkey, Parth D. Shah, Jennifer L. Moss and Noel T. Brewer
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev August 19 2016 DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-1159