Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable with regular screening, appropriate and timely follow-up of abnormal results and HPV immunization. In 2015, approximately 640 women in Ontario were diagnosed with cervical cancer and an estimated 150 died from the disease.
This April, Cancer Care Ontario is partnering with Grand River Hospital and the Waterloo Wellington Regional Cancer Program to encourage women to put their health first and book a Pap test to get screened for cervical cancer. A Pap test is a safe, easy and effective screening test that looks for abnormal cervical cell changes. It’s the only way to detect the early changes that might lead to cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer screening is recommended for women aged 21 to 69 every three years if they are or ever have been sexually active, but almost half a million Ontario women between the ages of 35 and 49 are overdue for cervical cancer screening.
“Most cervical cancers are diagnosed in women who have never been screened or have not been screened regularly,” says Dr. Rachael Halligan, Regional Primary Care Lead with the Waterloo Wellington Regional Cancer Program. “That’s why it’s so important to ensure you’re up-to-date with your screening. A Pap test can be done at your health care provider’s office. If you don’t have a family doctor or nurse practitioner, you can get a test done at a walk-in clinic.”
During the next few weeks, Waterloo Wellington Regional Cancer Program will be at various events throughout the region. Public events include: City of Kitchener Wellness Fair on April 13 at the City Hall Rotunda, Living Well Festival 2016 on April 30 at the Wilmot Recreation Complex in Baden, and the Fergus Home & Leisure Show on May 4-6. They will have a table display with information to educate women about the benefits of screening and highlight the importance of getting a Pap test every three years.
“Through the Ontario Cervical Screening Program, women aged 21 to 69 have access to comprehensive high-quality cervical cancer screening services,” says Dr. Joan Murphy, Clinical Lead, Ontario Cervical Screening Program, Cancer Care Ontario. “Many women in their 30s and 40s are busy taking care of others and may not make the time to focus on their own health. Our goal this month is to increase awareness about cervical cancer screening and encourage these individuals to book a Pap test if they haven’t had one in the past three years. Getting screened could save your life.”
Cancer Care Ontario sends letters to women inviting them to book a Pap test and get screened for cervical cancer. Letters are also sent to women to remind them to follow-up with their healthcare provider about test results and let them know when it is time to return for screening.
Call your doctor to book your Pap test today. Visit cancercare.on.ca/paptest to find a clinic near you.