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Photos: Despite Widespread Awareness, Most Women Still Don't Feel at Risk for Cervical Cancer

New survey results prompt women's health expert and celebrity designer to help women better understand how to help protect themselves and their loved ones

NEW YORK, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Although there has been education about human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer, a new survey from the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF) found that 89 percent of women still do not think or are not sure that they are at risk for infection with the virus, and 50 percent do not believe or are not sure that their daughters are at risk of getting HPV in the future. It is clear that more education is needed, because an estimated 80 percent of women will get HPV in their lifetime. Most infections will clear on their own. But, for an estimated 30 women a day in the United States who do not clear certain types of HPV, cervical cancer develops.

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During National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, cancer survivor and maternity fashion designer, Liz Lange, together with GCF are kicking off a campaign to encourage women to talk to their health care professionals about what they can do to help protect themselves, their daughters and the other women in their lives. This campaign is made possible with support from Merck & Co., Inc.

"Like most women, I never thought I would get cervical cancer. I received my regular Pap test, and I was primarily healthy," said Lange. "So, when my health care professional gave me the diagnosis, I was completely shocked." Lange was diagnosed in 2001 at the age of 35.

The GCF survey shows that most (89%) women do not feel they are at risk and half (50%) do not believe their daughters are at risk in the future. It also shows that more than half (57%) of mothers have not had a conversation with their daughter(s) about HPV. The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive among 1,015 U.S. women 18+ who have a daughter(s).

"I have seen firsthand the impact cervical cancer can have on women and their loved ones," said Dr. Ginger Gardner, M.D., GCF spokesperson and gynecologic oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "Women this month should make an appointment with their health care professionals to have Pap smear screening and to learn more about cervical cancer and other diseases caused by HPV."

Lange, who beat her disease, agrees that the most important thing women can do is make an appointment to talk to her health care professional. And she is offering a free educational gift to support women in learning more. "To help other women, I have designed a stylish health journal with important information about HPV and cervical cancer, a calendar to keep tabs on when they need to get screened, and pages to write their questions," she said. Women should visit to get more information and receive their free gift.

About Cervical Cancer

In the United States alone, an average 30 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each day, with an estimated 11,000 total diagnosed in 2009. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. Most infections clear on their own, but for some who do not clear certain types of HPV, cervical cancer can develop. There is no way to predict who will or will not clear the virus. HPV often shows no signs or symptoms, so it is important to continue with regular cervical cancer screening.

About the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation

The GCF is a not-for-profit organization established by the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists in 1991. Its mission is to develop and present educational programs for women who have or are at risk of developing a gynecologic cancer. Its programs are designed to raise public awareness of ways to prevent, detect and treat gynecologic cancers, and support promising, innovative gynecologic cancer research.

About Liz Lange

Liz Lange is founder and president of Liz Lange Maternity, a high-end maternity collection sold through a bi-annual print catalog, an ecommerce website, and national and international wholesale business. She is the only maternity designer to have shown at New York Fashion Week, once in 2001 and again in 2004, and is the only maternity designer to be a member of the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America. Since 2002, she designs the Liz Lange for Target line, the only maternity product sold in all Target stores in the United States. Lange is a wife, mother of two and cervical cancer survivor.

About Merck & Co., Inc.

Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck currently discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines to address unmet medical needs. The Company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service. For more information, visit

About the Survey

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation with support from Merck between November 17 and 21, 2008 among 1,015 U.S. women 18+ who have one or more daughter(s) between the ages of 9 and 26. A full survey methodology is available upon request.

Log on to to learn more about cervical cancer and HPV and take the short quiz to learn more about how to help protect yourself and your loved ones from the disease. For every person who completes the quiz while supplies last, Liz Lange is offering a free specially-designed gift.

    Press Contact:
    Kristen Eskin

SOURCE Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF)
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