First Lady Kathy Schweiker urges Pennsylvanians to 'Make Their Mark' in fight against breast, cervical cancer

PHILADELPHIA (April 3) -- On behalf of Gov. Mark Schweiker, First Lady Kathy Schweiker today was joined by Health Secretary Robert S. Zimmerman Jr. to announce more than $200,000 in grants to six scientists at Pennsylvania cancer-research centers working on developments to fight breast and cervical cancer.

The grants were made possible by the generous support of Pennsylvanians who donated a portion of their state income-tax refunds to the Breast and Cervical Cancer Research Fund.

"I am proud to say that thanks to the generosity of Pennsylvania taxpayers, we have raised nearly $1 million since 1998 for breast and cervical cancer-research efforts in our Commonwealth," Mrs. Schweiker said. "With the April 15 tax deadline fast approaching, I remind Pennsylvania taxpayers who have not filed that there is still time to help us reach the

$1 million mark."

The Department of Health awarded grants totaling $209,865 to six scientists from cancer-research centers statewide.

Scientists receiving state funding for breast and cervical cancer research are:

· Lewis A. Chodosh, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, $34,975 to research the "Special Effects of K-Ras in the Pathogenesis of Breast Cancer";
· Per H. Basse, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, $35,000 to study "Treatment of Dormant Breast Cancer Metastases";
· Carol V. Gay, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, $35,000 to study "Specificity of Breast Cancer Cells for Bone";
· Hildegund C. J. Ertl, M.D., The Wistar Institute, $35,000 to analyze "Vaccine Prevention of HPV-16 Associated Cancer";
· Susan Lanza-Jacoby, Ph.D., Thomas Jefferson University, $34,890 to study "Cyclooxygenase Regulation of Angiogensis in Breast Cancer"; and
· Ronan Marmorstein, Ph.D., The Wistar Institute, $35,000 to study the "Structural Basis for Inactivation of the Retinoblastoma Protein by the E7 Protein from Human Papillomavirus."

"The research conducted through these grants allows us to learn more about the causes, prevention, early detection measures and treatments of breast and cervical cancer," Secretary Zimmerman said. "This knowledge gives us a real chance to successfully win the fight over cancer. We want to remind Pennsylvanians that they have the ability to make a difference in that fight by donating to the research fund."

Secretary Zimmerman noted that of the five donation options on last year's income-tax form, the breast and cervical cancer-research check-off received the greatest number of contributions and received the highest average donation.

In 2001, nearly 27,000 Pennsylvanians chose to "Make Their Mark" for breast and cervical cancer research with an average donation of nearly $8 per donor. Contributions through the donation line totaled $202,256.81.

Each grant recipient can receive up to $35,000. The Department of Health's Cancer Control Program oversees the grants and works with the Pennsylvania Cancer Control, Prevention and Research Advisory Board's Income Tax Check-Off Committee to determine how to award each year's grants.

In 1997, former Gov. Tom Ridge established the income tax check-off provision allowing Pennsylvanians to donate a portion of their state tax refunds or contribute directly to breast and cervical cancer research.

In 1999, the first year's grant recipients were announced at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Eleven one-year grants up to $25,000 each were awarded to researchers. In the second year of the program, six one-year grants up to $30,000 were awarded. And, in the third year, eight one-year grants up to $35,000 were awarded.

Joining Mrs. Schweiker and Secretary Zimmerman for today's announcement were Pat Halpin-Murphy, President and Founder of the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition and Chairperson of the Pennsylvania Cancer Control, Prevention and Research Advisory Board's Income Tax Check-Off Committee, and Dr. John Glick, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center and Medical Oncologist specializing in breast cancer.

Mrs. Schweiker and Secretary Zimmerman thanked all cancer researchers for their important work and urged Pennsylvania taxpayers to consider donating all or a portion of their state income-tax refund or making a direct contribution. To make private donations to the income-tax check-off for breast and cervical cancer research, checks should be written to the "Breast and Cervical Cancer Research Fund," Department of Health, Bureau of Financial and Administrative Services, P.O. Box 90, Health and Welfare Building, Harrisburg, PA 17108.

Nearly 13,000 Pennsylvanians are diagnosed each year with breast and cervical cancer. Breast cancer is the leading cancer diagnosed among Pennsylvanian women. In 1999, 12,367 Pennsylvania women were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 616 Pennsylvania women were diagnosed with cervical cancer. In 2000, 2,267 women died from breast cancer, and 193 women died from cervical cancer.

The Schweiker Administration supports several other programs to assist women in their fight against breast and cervical cancer. A new program took effect Jan. 1, 2002, where women diagnosed with a breast or cervical pre-cancerous or cancerous condition are now eligible to receive the medical treatment they need.

Gov. Schweiker's proposed 2001-02 budget also makes Medicaid funds available to provide breast and cervical cancer treatment to qualified low-income women who participate in the Department of Health's HealthyWoman Project.

The Health Department's HealthyWoman Project is a breast and cervical cancer early-detection program that provides mammograms, breast self-examination education, clinical breast examinations, pelvic examinations and Pap tests for eligible women. Since the HealthyWoman Project began screening in 1994, almost 38,000 mammograms and nearly 29,000 Pap tests have been provided. The HealthyWoman Project, in partnership with the Rite Aid Women's Health Foundation, the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition and other healthcare organizations, also offers free breast screenings during the month of May through the "Mother's Day Mammograms" program.

Mrs. Schweiker serves as Honorary Chair of the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walks and ACS's Daffodils Days program.

The Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition's traveling photo exhibit, "67 Women/67 Counties" is part of the Health Department's aggressive breast cancer public-awareness and education campaign aimed at families, medical professionals, government and civic leaders, and others.

The Pennsylvania Cancer Registry is a statewide cancer registry maintained by the Health Department. This registry is one of the largest in the country and maintains comprehensive statewide cancer incidence and mortality data.

For more information about cancer programs, call the Department of Health's toll-free helpline, 1-877-PA-HEALTH, or visit the department's website, which can be accessed through the PA PowerPort at, PA Keyword: "health."

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