BC Cancer Agency urges pap tests

The BC Cancer Agency is urging women to get screened for cervical cancer by getting a pap test during Pap Awareness Week, Oct. 23 to 29.

The BC Cancer Agency is urging women to get screened for cervical cancer by getting a pap test during Pap Awareness Week, Oct. 23 to 29.

Women can go to http://campaigns.hellocoolworld.com/index.cfm?campaign_id=13&campaign_page_id=247 and get a list of clinics in their neighborhood that are offering easy access to screening—many with drop-in times and no appointment necessary.

A pap test is used to collect a sample of cells from the cervix, which is then sent to the BC Cancer Agency to check for any abnormal changes. Pap Awareness Week highlights the importance of regular screening in detecting the early warning signs of cervical cancer.

“Women who are screened regularly are at a lower risk for cervical cancer,” says Dr. Dirk van Niekerk, medical leader of the Cervical Cancer Screening Program at the BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority.

“A pap test can detect precancerous cells, which, if treated early, can stop the cancer from developing. It can also identify cancer at an early stage, when there are more treatment options available and cure rates are over 80 per cent.”

The BC Cancer Agency recommends that women start having pap tests at age 21 or approximately three years after first sexual contact. Screening should continue every year until a woman has three normal results in a row, and then every two years until age 69.

Since the introduction of the B.C.’s Cervical Cancer Screening Program—the first in the world—in the early 60s, the province has successfully reduced cervical cancer rates by 70 per cent.

High participation rates have contributed to this success, although there are some age groups and areas of the province where participation rates are lower than average. This demonstrates the need to continue efforts to increase awareness in B.C. of the benefits of regular screening in reducing women’s risk for cervical cancer.

— BC Cancer Agency