January is cervical cancer awareness month and the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Program (SMRCP) at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) has launched Pap-A-Palooza, an area-wide campaign to encourage everyone with a cervix to get screened.
“It is extremely important people take advantage of free cervical screening because pap tests can detect cancer before any physical symptoms show up, when cancer is most treatable,” says Dr. Danusia Gzik, Primary Care Lead & Indigenous Cancer Lead, Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Program. “Quite simply, Pap tests save lives.”
What is cervical cancer screening?
Screening is done via a Pap test, a procedure that collects cells from the cervix to detect cell changes that may indicate cancer or pre-cancer before any symptoms are felt.
Why are Pap tests important?
If cell changes are found, they can be treated, if necessary, before they can cause cervical cancer. Thanks almost entirely to screening, the rate at which Ontario women develop and die from cervical cancer has declined dramatically since the 1980s.
When to screen for cervical cancer
Currently, the Ontario Cervical Screening Program recommends that anyone with a cervix (women, transmasculine and non-binary people) who is, or ever has been, sexually active have a Pap test every three years starting at age 25. Pap tests can be stopped at 70 years of age if one has had three or more normal tests in the previous 10 years.
In Simcoe Muskoka, 40 per cent of eligible people are overdue for a Pap test.
How to get screened
Call the Simcoe Muskoka Cancer screening hotline 1-866-608-6910 to determine eligibility and be directed to a Pap clinic/provider near you. If you are not due for Pap Test at this time, the hotline can also help direct you for when you are.