Johanna’s Law: The Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act

What is Johanna’s Law?

It is a law that directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to do an awareness campaign around the signs and symptoms of gynecologic cancers, including ovarian, uterine, cervical and vaginal/vulvar cancer.

Why do we need this law?

Almost half of the 78,000 women diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer every year are diagnosed in later stages. Most gynecologic cancers, including ovarian cancer, have symptoms, which, if recognized can help women get diagnosed sooner. For more on the symptoms of ovarian cancer, see http://www.ovariancancer.org/about-ovarian-cancer/symptoms/.

Who is Johanna?

Johanna Silver Gordon did not recognize the symptoms of her disease or the seriousness of her symptoms, was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer and died in 2000. Johanna’s sister, Sheryl, first proposed the law and 2002 and continues to be a champion for awareness and education of ovarian cancer signs and symptoms.

Making a Difference through Increased Awareness

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (the Alliance) urges Members of Congress to sustain the public and health professional gynecologic cancer awareness programs created under Johanna’s Law: The Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act (P.L. 111-324), and housed under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by level-funding the program at the FY2010 level of $6.8 million in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education (LHHS) Appropriations bill.

Johanna’s Law authorized the CDC to undertake a gynecologic cancer awareness campaign aimed at educating women and health care providers about the signs and symptoms of gynecologic cancers. The campaign, Inside Knowledge: Get the Facts About Gynecologic Cancer, seeks to raise awareness of the five main types of gynecologic cancer: ovarian, cervical, uterine, vaginal and vulvar.

Thanks to funding previously provided for implementation of Johanna’s Law, more women are learning how to identify the signs and symptoms of gynecologic cancer. From September 2010 to January 2011, broadcast PSAs about gynecologic cancer have been played 68,630 times, generating 154,632,815 audience impressions (the number of times they have been seen or heard), worth $7,491,846 in donated placements. Additionally, since October 2010:

  • There have been 25,706 plays of the TV PSAS, worth $2,800,805 in donated airtime;
  • There have been 9,701 plays of English TV spots;
  • There have been 16,005 plays of Spanish TV spots;
  • The PSAs have aired in the top markets, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Atlanta, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Pittsburgh, PA, Salt Lake City, Raleigh/Durham, Green Bay, Baltimore, Tucson, Cleveland, Phoenix, Tulsa, Orlando, Hartford/New Haven, Houston, Spokane, and Seattle/Tacoma, among others; and
  • English spots have aired during popular programs such Today, Good Morning America, CBS Morning News, Access Hollywood, Cold Case, Real Housewives of Orange County, The Bachelor, The View, Dr. Oz Show, Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Doctors, Entertainment Tonight, and Late Night with David Letterman during the hours of 8 AM to midnight.

Additionally, the Inside Knowledge campaign has supported many other activities, including the development of gynecologic cancer-specific fact sheets in both English and Spanish, an online campaign resource – the Inside Knowledge website, a comprehensive gynecologic cancer brochure and the development of materials for primary care and health care professionals.

The recent reauthorization of Johanna’s Law’s added onto the previous law by creating a grant program to support non-profit organizations in their efforts to increase awareness of gynecologic cancer symptoms. The reauthorization also requires the CDC to work with national organizations to leverage public-private partnerships and resources to help facilitate complementary efforts and avoid duplication of services and materials.

The campaign’s website can be accessed at Inside Knowledge: Get the Facts about Gynecologic Cancer for more information.

Brief Legislative History of Johanna’s Law

The original bill was introduced in the House of Representative in 2004 and in the Senate in 2005 . The House held a hearing on the bill in 2006. It was passed by unanimous consent of the United States House and Senate in 2006 and signed by the President in early 2007. Johanna’s Law provides up to $16.5 million for awareness and education through a national public service campaign that would include written materials and public service announcements. Since 2007, champions and advocates worked to secure funding to implement the law through the annual appropriations process.