100th International Women’s Day: Focus on Cancer

March 9, 2011

Today, March 8, is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, Here is a small sampling of initiatives by health organizations and healthcare leaders dedicated to treating, preventing, and increasing awareness of women’s cancers, and improving women’s health.

Today, March 8, is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, Here is a small sampling of initiatives by health organizations and healthcare leaders dedicated to treating, preventing, and increasing awareness of women’s cancers, and improving women’s health.

• UICC, the Union for International Cancer Control, in Geneva, Switzerland, and GAVI, the Global Alliances for Vaccines and Immunisation, have joined forces to accelerate introduction of affordable human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines into developing countries, where more than 80% of cervical cancer cases and deaths occur. GAVI is also supporting the WHO in development of guidelines for introduction of the HPV vaccine in the target countries. On June 13 in London, a pledging conference will be held for GAVI, which needs $3.7 billion US to fully fund its 2011–2015 immunization and vaccine program, including introduction of HPV vaccines.

• The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists is holding its 2011 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer this week, from March 6–9, in Orlando, Florida. Visit www.sgo.org for more information, and to access e-learning programs for professionals active in women’s cancer care.

• Writing in the Huffington Post today, HuffPost Public Health Editor Susan Blumenthal, MD, highlighted still-neglected areas as well as important changes in women’s health, including those related to cancer. In particular, she noted how the NIH’s ongoing Women’s Health Initiative is improving the care of women, for example with findings showing an increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women who took hormone-replacement therapy for more than 5 years. To improve women’s health, she emphasized, preclinical studies must use female as well as male animals, “to better elucidate sex differences in animal models for hypothesis generation.” In addition, she said, “[M]ore attention must be paid to the social and environmental factors that influence women’s health-the gender differences-as well as quality of life issues.”

Dr. Blumenthal is former US Assistant Surgeon General and served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women’s Health in the US Department of Health and Human Services. She is currently Director of the Health and Medicine Program at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, Washington, DC. While working for the Office on Women’s Health at HHS, she developed the National Women’s Health Information center, a federal online resource that provides comprehensive health education and information for women.

• Susan G. Komen for the Cure works globally to provide women with breast cancer education and treatment, particularly in parts of the world where mortality from breast cancer is high and treatment availability is limited.

• The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s “United States of Teal” initiative is urging members of Congress in all 50 states to promote greater awareness of and research funding for ovarian cancer. When action is taken by a state legislator on behalf of the fight against ovarian cancer, that state is highlighted in teal on a map on the OCNA’s website.