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Farrah Fawcett Foundation Launches Fight Against HPV Cancers


Posted Friday, May 30 – 8:50 a.m.

Pictured: Alana Stewart and Dr. Lawrence Piro

By John L. Seitz

It was a medical subject which for years was thought to be strictly taboo–one nobody ever seemed to want to talk about. However, HPV (Human Papillomavirus) and its more than 26,000-associated anal, cervical, throat, head and neck cancers occurring each year, is real and has finally been brought it to the fore. The reason: some 79 million Americans are estimated to already be infected with HPV with 14 million more added to those rolls annually.

Among those actively promoting awareness in fighting the spread of HPV and its related cancers is the Beverly Hills-based Farrah Fawcett Foundation, helmed by the late actress’ longtime friend Alana Stewart, who produced the Emmy-nominated documentary Farrah’s Story and penned The New York Times’  bestseller My Journey With Farrah.

Joining with Stand Up To Cancer, co-founded by Sherry Lansing, and its scientific partner, the American Association for Cancer Research, the foundation has formed a translational research team, which will be provided with $1.2 million in funding during the next three years. Leading the project will be Ellis L. Reinherz, M.D. and Robert I. Haddad, M.D., both from Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The Courier met with FFF President/CEO Alana Stewart and the foundation’s advisory boardmember, esteemed oncologist Dr. Lawrence Piro, president/CEO of The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute and professor of clinical medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. Both are insistent that the most effective way to fight HPV early on is for boys and girls at ages 11-12 to receive Gardasil or Cervarix vaccinations.

“These vaccines only require a total of three shots, but are extremely safe,” assured Dr. Piro, who warned the vaccine rate in the U.S. is among the lowest of all developed countries with only 33-percent of girls and 7-percent of boys having received it. Both explained that it is extremely easy to contract HPV and, therefore, become at risk for the various HPV-related cancers.  Many already affected individuals are unaware they carry the disease.

Dr. Piro further pointed out that current vaccines have proven effective in preventing HPV infections in unexposed individuals, but don’t necessarily protect those already-infected.

“HPV is a critical problem facing the population and is only going to get worse unless we can get people educated about it–and fast,” said Stewart, who has run the foundation for several years. (It’s original inception by Farrah Fawcett was in 2006.)

“Farrah was fully committed to the struggle against anal cancer which took her own life and other lesser-researched cancers.  We are committed to carrying out her legacy through public awareness, prevention and by sponsoring and encouraging cutting-edge research.”

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