SOURCE: Lance Armstrong Foundation

June 18, 2009 17:19 ET

LIVESTRONG® Global Cancer Campaign Announces Outstanding Commitments to Cervical Cancer Control in Africa and Latin America

AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwire - June 18, 2009) - Today the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) announced outstanding commitments to addressing cervical cancer in Argentina, Guyana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia as part of the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Campaign, an initiative to address the global cancer burden. These commitments will be highlighted at the Campaign's landmark event, the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Summit, in Dublin, Ireland, Aug. 24-26. A map featuring these commitments, along with all commitments made to date, can be viewed at www.livestrong.org.

More than half a million women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year -- 68,000 in Africa; 77,000 in Latin America; and 245,000 in Asia. Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancers among women worldwide causing 288,000 deaths annually. 70% of cervical cancers are associated with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

"There is a disconnect between what we know and what we do about cancer," said Lance Armstrong, LAF founder and chairman, cancer survivor and champion cyclist. "For so many people diagnosed with cancer, we have the technology and treatment, but it doesn't reach them. As long as we allow this to happen, anywhere on earth, it is a moral and ethical failure."

"We know that access to the HPV vaccine could prevent the majority of cervical cancers from ever occurring," continued Armstrong. "These commitments made around HPV are amazing examples of the inspiring and ground-breaking work being done in the underserved populations around the world that need it most."

Ann Maina, a cervical cancer survivor, is the Founder of The Pink Ribbon Initiative in Nairobi, Kenya. Her organization is the first of its kind to undertake a cervical cancer awareness campaign in her country.

"Being a cancer survivor myself, I experience first-hand what cervical cancer patients go through. I lived in ignorance and never used to go for pap smear tests though I knew about it. On diagnosis and through treatment I experienced trauma due to lack of counseling. I also faced stigma from friends and some close family members and most of them believed I would eventually die," Maina wrote in her commitment application. "So little is known about this cancer in my country and little attention has been given to it by the government. Most women die of it in shame even before ever going to the hospital. There is no programme to educate women on cervical cancer and thus a lot of women do not know about pap tests. That is the key thing in winning this battle."

Maria Ines Marchegiani de Ucke, CEO of Liga Argentina de Lucha Contra el Cancer (LALCEC) of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is establishing a National Free Pap Test Week/Cervical Cancer Screenings to provide free screenings to discover cervix cell changes and early cervical cancers before they cause symptoms. Behind breast cancer, cervical cancer is the number two killer of women in Argentina, and most prevalent among women in rural areas

"Tests are provided at all LALCEC headquarters and their 150 local affiliate locations across Argentina, in addition to mobile units used to reach rural areas," explained Marchegiani de Ucke. "National Free Pap Test Week will also focus on increasing awareness of cervical cancer prevention amongst policymakers, donors, healthcare providers, educators and the media."

Sarah Maongezi, CEO of the Medical Women Association of Tanzania in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, is launching an awareness campaign for young women in primary schools to promote HPV screenings and vaccinations. Since the HPV vaccine has not yet been introduced in Tanzania, she plans to advocate for the importance of screening, especially in urban and rural schools, by lobbying policymakers. Maongezi hopes to reach her goal of successfully raising awareness and improving knowledge of cancer in Tanzania by 2020.

She wrote her campaign "... will raise awareness among women on cervical cancer, and empower them to come forward for screening rather than come for treatment of advanced cervical cancer. It will also demystify myths and misconceptions of cervical cancer."

Heather Lane, an employee with Jhpiego in Baltimore, Maryland, is making a commitment to lower the incidence and mortality rates of cervical cancer among HIV positive women through innovative integration services in the South American country of Guyana. Jhpiego will specifically work with the Guyana government to not only implement its goal of routine screening for HIV, but also require routine HPV screenings during these patients' visits. In addition, medical professionals will be trained in using a Single Visit Approach (SVA)/Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA), a cost-effective intervention that can be easily implemented in low-resource settings. Coupled with government funding, Jhpiego will campaign to increase cancer awareness and strengthen the quality of referral and monitoring systems of the diagnosed and treated.

"An estimated 50% of adults globally infected with HIV are women, and this proportion rises to 60% in sub-Saharan Africa," Lane explained in her commitment. "HIV-infected women have higher incidence, greater prevalence and longer persistence of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection, which is the primary cause of cervical cancer."

Groesbeck Parham, MD, a gynecologic oncologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is making a commitment to significantly reduce cervical cancer mortality by opening more clinics that use the Single Visit Approach (SVA) and the Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) across Zambia while ensuring quality of care and appropriate technique. After treating more than 30,000 women at 17 clinics in three years, Parham is working to raise $29 million, expand to 80 clinics and screen a record 80,000 women per year. This quality of care, offered for free, would eventually allow the integration of HPV testing and vaccinations.

"The need in Zambia is enormous: fewer than 5% of women have ever had a pelvic exam, while Zambia has the second-highest incidence and mortality from cervical cancer in Africa, and the sixth-highest in the world," Parham wrote in his commitment. "Our clinics now screen 1,200 patients per month. Our mission is to bring this program to scale, making Zambia the first country in Africa to provide routine cervical cancer screening, and to integrate HPV testing and vaccination as these become available."

These advocates will join 250 attendees representing more than 50 countries around the world in an unprecedented show of solidarity against the global cancer epidemic at the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Summit. The Summit will make the case for urgent action to address the global cancer burden and introduce new commitments for cancer control by bringing together key stakeholders from all parts of the world. Unlike other conferences and forums, the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Summit is unique in that it will kick off a unified global movement while providing attendees the opportunity to connect with other advocates, network, gain media exposure and access tools and resources to help them mobilize in their own communities. Speakers include honorary Summit chair and former Irish President Mary Robinson, Irish Cancer Chief Professor Tom Keane, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta as well as representatives from the World Health Organization and other global bodies.

In September 2008, Armstrong announced the Foundation's commitment to making cancer a global priority at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York. The LAF made this commitment after its worldwide research, conducted over 18 months, revealed widespread misconceptions, stigma and lack of awareness associated with cancer. In response, the LAF established the LIVESTRONG™ Global Cancer Campaign to urgently address the burden of cancer worldwide and support the 28 million people living with cancer around the globe. Cancer kills more people every year than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. It is estimated that cancer will be the leading cause of death worldwide by 2010. With such staggering statistics, the LAF recognized that a global challenge like cancer required a global movement. And so it began urging world leaders, leading cancer organizations and cancer survivors to join together by making commitments to take action in their communities to reduce the burden of cancer.

The LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Campaign is proud of its successes to date in Australia, California, Mexico and, most recently, Italy, where its corporate partner Nike helped build grassroots awareness of the burden of cancer through visibility efforts including its Open Roads project, in which Hope Rides Again yellow boxes of chalk and cheer cards were given to fans who lined the tour route in support of Armstrong. The LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Campaign will head to the Tour de France (July 4-26), the Tour of Ireland (Aug. 19-23) and the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Summit in Ireland (Aug. 24-26), as well as other locations to be announced. For more information on the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Campaign, please visit www.LIVESTRONGblog.org.

About the Lance Armstrong Foundation

At the Lance Armstrong Foundation, we fight for the 28 million people around the world living with cancer today. There can be -- and should be -- life after cancer for more people. That's why we kick in at the moment of diagnosis, giving people the resources and support they need to fight cancer head-on. We find innovative ways to raise awareness, fund research and end the stigma about cancer that many survivors face. We connect people and communities to drive social change, and we call for state, national and world leaders to help fight this disease. Anyone anywhere can join our fight against cancer. Join us at www.LIVESTRONG.org.

About Liga Argentina de Lucha Contra el Cáncer (LALCEC)

www.lalcec.org.ar

Jhpiego

www.jhpiego.org

About Medical Women Association of Tanzania

www.mewata.org

Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia

www.cidrz.org

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Rae Bazzarre
    Lance Armstrong Foundation
    +1 (512) 279-8367
    Email Contact