Cervical cancer is preventable. Yet each year approximately 500 women are diagnosed with cancer of the cervix, and about 150 women die from this disease in Ontario. Up to 60,000 women each year learn that they have abnormal pap tests that require assessment and/or treatment. Regular screening is essential to detect and treat cervical cancer. Screening can find early cell changes on the cervix caused by persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. These changes can progress to cancer if not found and treated.
For the first time, we have a vaccine that can block HPV infections before they occur, but this is not a substitute for cervical cancer screening. Even if vaccinated, women still need regular pap tests because the vaccine does not protect against all cancer-causing HPV strains.
About the Ontario cervical screening program
In 1997, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care approved and funded a cervical screening program at Cancer Care Ontario. In 2000, the Ontario Cervical Screening Program (OCSP) was created. The OCSP works to ensure that Ontario women have access to a coordinated system that supports high-quality cervical screening.
The goal of the program is to reduce the incidence of and mortality from cervical cancer.Frequently asked questions (FAQs)For FAQs and more information about cervical cancer screening, HPV and cancer of the cervix, please visit the Cancer Care Ontario website.
Cervical cancer awareness week is October 22-28, 2012. Click here to learn more about free Pap test clinics available through public health.