June 25, 2008

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


Contact: Pam Rasmussen (Spokesperson), Vice President, Communications, QIAGEN, +1-240-686-7616, [email protected]; or Lindsey Wiegmann of Lippe Taylor, Inc., +1-212-598-4400, ext. 178, [email protected], for QIAGEN

GERMANTOWN, Md., June 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Marissa Jaret Winokur, best known as a recent Dancing with the Stars semi- finalist and for her Tony award-winning role in the Broadway musical Hairspray, is calling on all women to "take the pledge to stop cervical cancer" by visiting www.theHPVtest.com/pledge. For each woman who pledges to spread the word to her family and friends and/ or get the HPV test, QIAGEN -- the company that developed the test for the primary cause of cervical cancer, the human papillomavirus (HPV) -- will donate $1 to two charities dedicated to educating women on the disease.

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

"I survived cervical cancer and thanks to my surrogate, I am now having a baby boy -- which is a miracle. But there is a part of me that is sad that I can't experience being pregnant or giving birth. I don't want any other woman to 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 their Pap, if they're over 30," Winokur says.

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

Charities to Benefit from "The Pledge"

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

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

Marissa's Story

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

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

HPV and Cervical Cancer

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

HPV Testing

A Pap smear can identify cells that have become abnormal due to HPV, while HPV testing detects the presence of the virus itself. The FDA has approved routine HPV testing for women age 30 and older -- the group most likely to have persistent infections and most at risk of developing cervical cancer. Use of HPV testing for routing screening is recognized in guidelines issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Women's Association. Studies show that, on average, the combination of the digene HPV Test and the Pap identifies 95-100 percent of advanced cervical disease.


QIAGEN NV, headquartered in the Netherlands, is the leading global provider of sample and assay technologies. Sample technologies identify and separate DNA, RNA and proteins from blood, tissue, etc., and assays make these molecules visible for such vital activities as medical research, detection of disease and monitoring of treatment outcome. QIAGEN has developed and markets more than 500 products as well as instruments that make their use more efficient and accurate. The company provides its products to molecular diagnostics laboratories, academic researchers, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and applied testing customers for purposes such as forensics, animal or food testing and pharmaceutical process control. QIAGEN's assay technologies include one of the broadest panels of molecular diagnostic tests available worldwide, including the only FDA-approved test for HPV, the primary cause of cervical cancer. QIAGEN employs more than 2,600 people in over 30 locations worldwide.


(c) 2008 U.S. Newswire. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.