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The WNBA Spokesteam
Here are some of the WNBA players who will be helping to spread the word about cervical cancer prevention:

"This is a great opportunity to not only gain knowledge myself, but it also gives me the opportunity to share things that I've learned that can actually change a persons life expectancy and quality of life."

"If I can help to save the life of just one person, I will feel great, but I believe Digene will put me in the position to reach millions and I am excited about the opportunity."

"I believe that good health and fitness are a great road to take to enjoy a great life. Being healthy gives you an excited outlook on life and living."

Top WNBA Athletes Urge Women to Ask for the HPV Test
WNBA Champions Cause to Eliminate Cervical Cancer

April 20, 2005 – New York– The WNBA has teamed with Digene Corporation to help educate women about the benefits of the HPV test in preventing cervical cancer. A “Dream Team” of top WNBA players will serve as an integral part of a national awareness campaign to underscore the importance of obtaining a human papillomavirus (HPV) test for women 30 years of age and older. The presence of HPV causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer.

The “Dream Team,” which includes such WNBA Stars as two-time MVP and three-time gold medalist Lisa Leslie (LA Sparks), three-time gold medalist Tina Thompson (Houston Comets), two-time gold medalist Katie Smith (Minnesota Lynx) and New York Liberty star Becky Hammon, will participate in public appearances to personally encourage women in the at-risk age group to talk to their doctors about cervical cancer screening and to ask specifically for an HPV test.

As part of the WNBA's partnership with Digene to fight cervical cancer, Nikki McCray, Lisa Leslie and Becky Hammon were shooting hoops and signing autographs for fans in Times Square on Thursday, April 21.
(Steven Freeman/WNBAE/Getty Images)

“Each of us participating in this program is at or nearing the age of 30, so as women in this at-risk age group and as athletes, we recognize the importance of engaging in a dialogue with our doctors about cervical cancer screening,” said Lisa Leslie. “In our lives on the court, we’ve been fortunate to achieve some amazing things and now, we’d like to help to do something even more amazing and that’s to eliminate cervical cancer. "I have recently been tested for HPV, and I assure you the ten seconds that it took were worth it and I want every woman to know."

The WNBA Dream Team will urge women 30 and older to pledge to get screened regularly for cervical cancer, including getting tested for high-risk types of HPV together with their Pap test. Women can get more information and “take the pledge” by visiting www.TheHPVtest.com.

Cervical cancer is the only cancer for which there is a specific, identifiable cause, making the disease virtually 100 percent preventable. Although use of the Pap test alone has helped reduce the incidence of cervical cancer over the past 50 years, it is not foolproof. Pre-cancerous cells may be missed until a malignancy has already developed. If the Pap is combined with a test for high-risk (cancer-causing) types of HPV, the ability to detect a woman at risk for cervical cancer is increased to virtually 100 percent.

“The HPV test is still relatively new for routine screening, so women may need to ask their doctors for it. Because it can be done at the same time as the Pap test, the HPV test doesn’t take any more time in the office, or cause greater discomfort to women,” said Marie Savard, MD, internist, author and expert on patient empowerment. “It’s not much extra effort for a lot of additional peace of mind.”

Cervical cancer strikes 10,370 women in the United States each year, and is second only to breast cancer in the number of women it affects worldwide. Virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by high-risk forms of HPV. Although an estimated 80 percent of sexually active women will get HPV at some point in their lives, the virus usually goes away on its own without causing any problems. However, in some women, the infection persists and causes cell changes in the cervix that may ultimately become cancerous. Routing screening for HPV in women age 30 and older is covered by most insurance companies, and has been recognized as a reasonable option in guidelines issued by both the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.