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WNBA And Cervical Cancer Survivors Shoot To Eliminate Cervical Cancer

Top WNBA athletes, advocates and cancer survivors encourage women to get educated and ask for the HPV test

(HealthNewsDigest.com).. August 15, 2005 – New York, NY – On August 10, the WNBA and cervical cancer advocates teamed up for an exciting night of hoops and hope at Madison Square Garden to teach women how to prevent cervical cancer. The New York Liberty versus Los Angeles Sparks match-up served as a platform for celebrating the ongoing national “Choose to Know” campaign, which informs women age 30 and older why they should “choose to know” whether they carry the human papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of virtually all cases of cervical cancer.

The night’s league superstars, Becky Hammon (NY Liberty), a fan favorite and the Liberty’s leading scorer, and Lisa Leslie (LA Sparks), a two-time WNBA MVP and three-time gold medalist, are urging women to become informed about HPV and cervical cancer. Hammon and Leslie work together through the WNBA’s Mind.Body.Spirit. program to educate fans about important health and wellness issues when they’re not playing against each other on the court. As part of the “Choose to Know” campaign, the players want all women age 30 and older – the age group most at risk of developing cervical cancer – to ask for the HPV test when they get their Pap. Combining the HPV test with the Pap has been proven to increase the ability to identify women at risk to virtually 100 percent, while the Pap test alone can miss 15 to 49 percent of women with pre-cancerous cells.

Christine Baze, cervical cancer survivor, musician and founder of PopSmear.org, sang the national anthem to kick off the cross-conference WNBA game. Throughout the evening, women’s health advocates – including a leading African-American non-profit health awareness group, The Balm in Gilead – staffed informational booths within the arena to answer questions and distribute educational materials. Fans were urged to “take the pledge” to educate themselves and their loved ones about cervical cancer and its cause, HPV, by visiting www.TheHPVtest.com and wearing special “Choose to Know” bracelets.

“Cervical cancer can be better prevented if women understand the disease and know their HPV status,” said New York Liberty guard Becky Hammon. “This is why my teammates and I are urging all women to obtain the facts, get a Pap regularly, and if they’re over 30, ask their doctors for the HPV test as well."

The WNBA “Choose to Know” cervical cancer prevention program is supported by Digene Corporation, developer of the HPV test.

About Cervical Cancer
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. 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. Routine screening for HPV in women age 30 and older is covered by most insurance companies, and has been recognized in guidelines issued by both the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

About the WNBA
The 2005 WNBA All-Star Game, which was played in front of a sell-out crowd at Mohegan Sun Arena, saw the highest scoring game in WNBA history and culminated with a slam dunk by veteran All-Star Lisa Leslie. The ABC telecast reached more international viewers than ever as it was broadcast in 193 countries by 52 telecasters in 31 languages allowing the league’s global fan base to witness all the action. WNBA programming is broadcast on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and NBA-TV. For more information, visit www.WNBA.com.

For more information on cervical cancer prevention and the WNBA “Choose to Know” program, visit www.TheHPVtest.com.

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