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Vanessa Williams and Carmen Marc Valvo Make It Fashionable to Talk About Colon Cancer In New Public Service Announcement

The EIF's NCCRA/sanofi-aventis PSA Campaign Released for National

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

LOS ANGELES, March 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Award-winning singer and actress Vanessa Williams and renowned evening wear designer Carmen Marc Valvo, who is a colon cancer survivor, appear in a new public service campaign to educate people about the importance of screening. The PSAs also note that with advances in treatment, more people are surviving colorectal cancer than ever before and highlight the potential benefit of working with a multidisciplinary team of specialists for those who are diagnosed with the disease. Ms. Williams and Mr. Valvo participate in the initiative as volunteer ambassadors for the Entertainment Industry Foundation's National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (EIF's NCCRA).

This new campaign, which includes both print and broadcast announcements, was created by EIF's NCCRA and sanofi-aventis. The print version of the PSA will appear in major fashion and lifestyle magazines starting in the spring. The 30 and 60 second spots will begin airing this March during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Director Jeff Wadlow created the spots with the support of the creative team behind his new feature film NEVER BACK DOWN, including Composer Michael Wandmacher, Director of Photography Lukas Ettlin and Editor Debra Weinfeld.

"Colon cancer isn't glamorous, but we have to be vigilant about getting people comfortable with talking about it," says NCCRA Ambassador Williams. "My good friend Carmen is living proof that colorectal cancer is treatable. As a first step, we want to encourage people to talk to their doctors about getting screened."

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in the United States; almost 150,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed within this year. Yet, this is one of the only cancer types that is often entirely preventable through screening. People should be screened starting at age 50, and for those with a family history of the disease, testing should begin even earlier.

"I didn't have any typical symptoms of colon cancer but I just knew something was wrong," says NCCRA Ambassador Valvo. "I insisted on having a colonoscopy and that's part of the reason I'm alive today. Once I was diagnosed, I took an active role in working with my medical team to select the best treatment for me. Become your own champion, like I did, and it could save your life."

Directing the PSA was very personal for Wadlow, who lost his uncle Jay Monahan to the disease 10 years ago. "My aunt Katie Couric has made the fight against colon cancer one of the central commitments in her life. I'm honored to contribute to the work she and the Entertainment Industry Foundation do to make the public aware that colorectal cancer screening saves lives."

The PSA encourages diagnosed patients to be their own advocates and take an active role in working with their healthcare providers. One key to better treatment outcomes may be working with a multidisciplinary team of specialists -- an oncologist, surgeon and gastroenterologist -- in partnership with a primary care physician, to decide the best treatment path.

"We're delighted to work with sanofi-aventis on this PSA that both encourages screening and provides a survivor's perspective on what people facing a colon cancer diagnosis should do to try to ensure the best outcome," said Lisa Paulsen, EIF's president and CEO. "To have stars with the stature of Vanessa and Carmen in our PSA helps make it fashionable to talk about colon cancer, a topic that was considered taboo not long ago. We are incredibly grateful to both of them. Jeff Wadlow is a tremendously talented feature film director; we so appreciate that he and his team volunteered their time to produce the broadcast PSA."

To learn more about colorectal cancer and screening, visit

About Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in this country. In 2007 in the U.S., more than 52,000 deaths resulted from colorectal cancer, representing 10% of all cancer deaths. In 2008, 108,070 new cases of colon cancer and 40,740 new cases of rectal cancer are expected to be diagnosed.

About the Entertainment Industry Foundation

The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), as a leading charitable organization of the entertainment industry, has distributed hundreds of millions of dollars to support charitable initiatives addressing critical health, education and social issues.

National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance

EIF's NCCRA is dedicated to the eradication of colon cancer by promoting education about the importance of medical screening and funding cutting-edge research to develop better tests, treatments and, ultimately, a cure. The NCCRA was co-founded by journalist Katie Couric, cancer activist Lilly Tartikoff, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation in 2000. As a result of the attention focused on colorectal cancer since the NCCRA was established, the number of colonoscopy screenings has increased almost 20 percent, a phenomenon dubbed the "Couric Effect" by the University of Michigan researchers who documented it.

SOURCE Entertainment Industry Foundation
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