Every year nearly half a million Canadian women receive news that their Pap test results are not normal.
Cervical cancer is the 4th most common reproductive cancer in Canadian women today.
This year, 1500 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and sadly 380 women will die. Cervical cancer is a malignant tumour that starts in the cells of the cervix. Malignant means that it can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body. Cells in the cervix sometimes change and no longer grow or behave normally. Changes to cells of the cervix can also cause precancerous conditions. This means that these cells are not yet cancer, but there is a chance that these abnormal cells might become cancerous if not treated. Most women with precancerous changes of the cervix are successfully treated and don’t develop cancer.
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Cervical Cancer is Preventable!
Most cervical cancers are diagnosed in women who have never been screened or have not been screened regularly. Screening is the only way to detect the early changes that might lead to cervical cancer. I can’t emphasize enough how important is to have a PAP test. In Ontario PAP tests are recommended at the age of 21, if the individual has ever been sexually active. If the test is normal, then screening should be done every three years.
HPV and Cervical Cancer can be prevented with vaccines.
Another way to protect against cancer is to get vaccinated against HPV, the Human Papillomavirus. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection with more than 40 types of HPV contracted through sexual intercourse, genital skin-to-skin contact and oral sex. They can infect the genital areas of men and women, including the penis, vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum and anus.
There are millions of women in Canada who still do not get regular PAP tests and/or a HPV vaccination.We are fortunate in Canada to have access to government-funded healthcare. Prevention is the best way to reduce your chances of facing a serious illness.
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