Cervical cancer screening

Rebecca Johnson
Alberta Health Services

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. If you have a cervix, it is important to get cervical cancer screening.

Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), and the types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer usually don’t cause symptoms, so most people don’t even know they have it.

The good news is that cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Regular cervical cancer screening (Pap tests) is effective in reducing cervical cancer incidence and mortality. In fact, 90 per cent of cervical cancer can be prevented with regular screening and following up on any abnormal results.

A Pap test checks the cervix for any abnormal cells. It’s a quick test that can be done right in your healthcare provider’s office or at a women’s health clinic. By screening regularly, any cell changes can be followed closely to make sure they clear up or are treated, if needed.

If you’re between the ages of 25 and 69 and have ever been sexually active, start having Pap tests at age 25, or three years after becoming sexually active, whichever is later.

Plan to be screened once every three years unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise. And once you start, continue having Pap tests until you’re 69 years of age.

Is it safe to go for screening during COVID-19? Enhanced health and safety measures are in place to keep patients and staff safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Your healthcare provider’s office may provide more details about these safety measures.

Getting screened can save your life. Remember to book your screening appointment and talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Visit screeningforlife.ca to learn more.

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