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American Medical Women's Association Supports New Bill That Requires Medicare Coverage of HPV Testing as Part of Cervical Cancer Screening

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) today voiced support for a new bill, the Medicare Cervical Cancer Screening and Detection Coverage Act of 2007, that would give older American women greater access to advanced cervical cancer screening techniques. The bill, H.R. 4055, was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro and would require Medicare to cover testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV), in conjunction with a Pap test, as part of cervical cancer screening for older women and disabled women. AMWA represents women in medicine from all sub- specialties and female medical students in the United States.

"The American Medical Women's Association commends Rep. DeLauro for her efforts to protect the health of older women in our country," said Diana J. Galindo, M.D., president of AMWA and a geriatrics medicine physician with the Cleveland Clinic Florida. "HPV testing in conjunction with a Pap test can enable clinicians to identify which women are at increased risk of cervical cancer and thus need more careful monitoring. Knowing this information is especially important for older women, who may think they no longer need to worry about cervical cancer."

Women age 65 and older (those usually covered by Medicare) account for nearly 20 percent of all new cervical cancer cases and more than 35 percent of all deaths from the disease, according to data from the National Cancer Institute.

HPV is understood to be the primary cause of cervical cancer. Studies have shown the Pap test to be between 50 to 70 percent effective at detecting pre- cancerous cervical lesions. Liquid-based Pap technologies and computer- enhanced screening can improve that rate. However, recent studies show that combining an HPV test with a Pap test in women age 30 and older can increase screening accuracy to almost 100 percent and may allow for less frequent testing if both tests are normal.

"The landscape of cervical cancer prevention is changing, with HPV testing along with a Pap test becoming a new standard of care in screening women age 30 and older," said Susan L. Ivey, M.D., M.H.S.A., immediate past president of AMWA. "It is very important that all women have access to this newer screening approach, and this includes our nation's older women."

AMWA recently released new cervical cancer screening guidelines, which advocate for HPV testing as part of screening for women age 30 and older, in accordance with recent guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The organization also recommended HPV vaccination for all girls age 11 and 12, along with catch-up vaccinations for other girls who qualify for vaccination. AMWA also advocates that clinicians should utilize these new technologies, as part of an integrated prevention strategy, and that insurance companies should pay for them.

About Cervical Cancer and HPV

Worldwide, more than 500,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and more than 230,000 women die of this disease. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year, in the U.S. alone, 11,150 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3,670 women will die of the disease. Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by "high-risk" types of HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection. While most HPV infections go away without treatment, the presence of HPV, particularly evidence of chronic infection with HPV, indicates increased vulnerability to cervical cancer and the need for adherence to a regular screening schedule.

About AMWA

Founded in 1915, the American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) is the oldest and largest multispecialty association of women physicians, residents and medical students. Today, AMWA represents a community of professionals working to promote health and encourage the professional and personal development of those in medicine, healthcare and related fields. AMWA is dedicated to the promotion of ethical principles of medical practice, particularly as they apply to healthcare issues involving women and their families.

SOURCE American Medical Women's Association
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