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A law that could save lives

December 30, 2003
E-Newsletter
A law that could save lives

By Kay Granger and Sander M. Levin Special to the Star-Telegram Every hour, approximately 10 American women receive a diagnosis of a gynecologic cancer like ovarian, cervical or uterine cancer. Each year we lose 26,000 mothers, sisters, daughters and friends to one of these terrible diseases. What makes it even more tragic is that many of those deaths could be prevented if more women knew the risk factors, recognized the early symptoms of gynecologic cancers and discussed them with their doctors. Ovarian cancer, the deadliest of the gynecologic cancers, has only a 20 percent survival rate if detected in its later stages -- and less than a third of cases are diagnosed earlier. Gynecologic cancer affects all of us, regardless of where we live or where we work. That's why we've teamed up to introduce Johanna's Law: the Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act, which would create a federal campaign to increase early detection of these deadly cancers and, when possible, help women reduce their risk of contracting them. The legislation takes a two-pronged approach, combining a national public service announcement directed at all women with targeted grants to local and national organizations. Unfortunately the story of Johanna Silver Gordon, for whom the legislation is named, is all too common. (See the accompanying essay "Knowledge is more valuable than gold.") If women know which symptoms to watch and have them evaluated, the other gynecologic cancers can be diagnosed early, too. A recent study found that almost 90 percent of women with early-stage ovarian cancer had symptoms before being diagnosed. We are working with our colleagues in Congress to quickly pass Johanna's Law and increase federal efforts to educate the public about gynecologic cancers. But please don't wait if you are female. Talk to your physician about your risk of gynecologic cancer today, and encourage all the women you love to do the same. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, represents the 12th Congressional District of Texas. Rep. Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., represents the 12th Congressional District of Michigan.