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Actress Marissa Jaret Winokur Urges Women to 'Take the Pledge' to Prevent Cervical Cancer

Thursday, June 26, 2008 General News J E 4
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GERMANTOWN, Md., June 25 Marissa Jaret Winokur,best known as a recent Dancing with the Stars semi-finalist and for her Tonyaward-winning role in the Broadway musical Hairspray, is calling on all womento "take the pledge to stop cervical cancer" by visitingwww.theHPVtest.com/pledge. For each woman who pledges to spread the word toher family and friends and/or get the HPV test, QIAGEN -- the company thatdeveloped the test for the primary cause of cervical cancer, the humanpapillomavirus (HPV) -- will donate $1 to two charities dedicated to educatingwomen on the disease.

Winokur, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer several years ago, isfully recovered and expecting a baby boy this summer with the help of asurrogate. Today, she is committed to spreading the word that cervical canceris preventable with routine cervical cancer screening with both a regular Papand, if age 30 or older, the HPV test.

"I survived cervical cancer and thanks to my surrogate, I am now having ababy boy -- which is a miracle. But there is a part of me that is sad that Ican't experience being pregnant or giving birth. I don't want any other womanto have to go through what I did -- or lose out on her chance to have a baby.Women should talk to their doctor about getting the HPV test along with theirPap, if they're over 30," Winokur says.

More information about HPV and cervical cancer is available online atwww.theHPVtest.com.

Charities to Benefit from "The Pledge"

Tamika & Friends is a national non-profit organization created to raiseawareness about cervical cancer, its link to HPV and how to prevent it througha network of survivors, their friends and others who care about them. Tamika& Friends was founded by Tamika Felder, a television producer and cervicalcancer survivor who lives in Washington, D.C. For more information, visitwww.tamikaandfriends.org.

The Yellow Umbrella.Org is a national non-profit organization founded tohelp spread the word through the unique enthusiasm and skills of ChristineBaze, a cervical cancer survivor and singer/songwriter based in Boston. Formore information, please visit www.theyellowumbrella.org.

Marissa's Story

Eight years ago, while rehearsing for her lead role as Tracy Turnblad inHairspray, Winokur was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She was healthy andher Pap smears had always been normal. She was shocked by the diagnosis,which meant that she would need a hysterectomy. Luckily, the surgery was ableto remove all of the cancer, and the doctors were even able to save herovaries. Winokur didn't need chemotherapy or radiation. Now fully recovered,she and her husband, television writer Judah Miller, have identified asurrogate to carry their child. They are expecting a baby boy on or aboutJuly 22 who they plan to name "Zev."

Today, Winokur hopes to help educate other women about how they canprotect themselves against this unnecessary disease.

HPV and Cervical Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2007, about 11,500 women inthe U.S. developed cervical cancer and about 3,650 died from the disease.Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second-most-common type of cancer thatstrikes women -- behind only breast cancer. Its cause, HPV, is a very commonvirus, infecting approximately 80 percent of all women at some point in theirlifetimes. In the majority of women, the virus goes away or is suppressed bythe body before it causes any problems.

HPV Testing

A Pap smear can identify cells that have become abnormal due to HPV, whileHPV testing detects the presence of the virus itself. The FDA has approvedroutine HPV testing for women age 30 and older -- the group most likely tohave persistent infections and most at risk of developing cervical cancer.Use of HPV testing for routing screening is recognized in guidelines issued bythe American Colleg
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