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Getting screened for cervical cancer with a Pap test could save your life

Posted Apr 11th, 2016

Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable with regular screening, appropriate and timely follow-up of abnormal results, and HPV immunization.  

This April, Cancer Care Ontario is partnering with the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Regional Cancer Program, which includes Niagara Health's Walker Family Cancer Centre, to encourage women to put their health first and book a Pap test to get screened for cervical cancer. A Pap test is a safe, easy and effective screening test that looks for abnormal cervical cell changes. It’s the only way to detect the early changes that might lead to cervical cancer.

A Pap test is recommended for women aged 21 to 69 every three years if they are or ever have been sexually active. Of the more than 400,000 women ages 21 to 69 living in the region served by the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Regional Cancer Program, just under 65 per cent have had a Pap test in the last three years.  That translates into just over 150,000 women in our region who have never had a Pap test or are overdue.

 “Most cervical cancers are diagnosed in women who have never been screened or have not been screened regularly,” says Dr. Dustin Costescu, Regional Colposcopy/Cervical Lead for the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Regional Cancer Program. “That’s why it’s so important for women to ensure they’re up-to-date with screening.”  

A Pap test can be done at your family doctor’s office. If you don’t have a doctor, you can have a test done at a walk-in clinic or sexual health clinic.

The Ontario Cervical Screening Program is a province-wide screening program that provides women aged 21 – 69 with access to free, comprehensive, coordinated, high-quality cervical cancer screening. The program’s goal is to reduce cervical cancer incidence and mortality.

Many women are busy taking care of others and may not make the time to focus on their own health, says Dr. Joan Murphy, Clinical Lead, Ontario Cervical Screening Program, Cancer Care Ontario. “Our goal this month is to increase awareness about cervical cancer screening and encourage these individuals to book a Pap test if they haven’t had one in the past three years. Getting screened could save your life.”

Cancer Care Ontario sends letters to women inviting them to book a Pap test and get screened for cervical cancer. Letters are also sent to women to remind them to follow-up with their healthcare provider about test results and let them know when it is time to return for screening.

Call your doctor to book your Pap test today. Visit to find a clinic near you.

The Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Regional Cancer Program oversees the delivery and quality of cancer services for the counties of Brant, Burlington, Haldimand, Hamilton, Niagara and most of Norfolk. It is one of 13 Regional Cancer Programs created by Cancer Care Ontario in 2005 to ensure cancer care is delivered according to province-wide quality standards.


Media contact: Steven Gallagher, Communications Specialist, 905-378-4647, ext. 43879;

Niagara Health System