Ontario Cervical Screening Program
Each week in Ontario about 11 women will develop cancer of the cervix and three women die from it. The good news is that regular Pap tests can prevent about 90% of cancer of the cervix. When early cell changes are found on a regular Pap test and treated before they become cancerous, most cancers of the cervix can be prevented.
Women should have a yearly Pap test once they start having sex. If the Pap test is normal for three years in a row, ask your doctor or nurse about how often you should have it. After menopause women need to continue having a Pap test. If you have had a hysterectomy or are over 70 years of age ask your doctor or nurse if you need to continue having Pap tests.
If you are a woman who has never had a Pap test, you may be feeling great and think you donít need one. Some women hesitate to make an appointment for a variety of reasons including embarrassment or cultural background. Remember the test takes only a few minutes and can make a big difference to your health. If you are hesitant about the test, discuss with your doctor ways to make you feel more comfortable. The Pap test is an important part of a womanís regular medical check-up and could save your life.
If the results of the Pap test are abnormal it usually means that the cells of the cervix have changed. Often when the test is repeated a few months later these cells have changed back to normal on their own. For some women the cells do not change back to normal and they may be referred to a specialist for further treatment. Following up with treatment is crucial to prevent these cells from becoming cancerous.
The key to preventing cancer of the cervix is having a regular Pap test. Changes in the cervix may occur without you being aware of it. If you are a woman who has been avoiding a regular Pap test, take care of yourself and call for an appointment today.
For further information call Public Health Unit at 376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456, or visit our web site at www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca
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