Cervical Cancer

fullwidthCervical cancer is easy to miss if you don’t get screened. It usually grows very slowly and has no symptoms in its early stages. Before cervical cancer develops, the cells in the cervix start to change and can become precancerous. Getting screened for cervical cancer is the only way to find these precancerous cells. It’s also the best way to catch cervical cancer when it’s most treatable.

Screening for Cervical Cancer

If you’re sexually active, you should start having regular Pap tests starting at age 21. You’ll need a Pap test every 2 years, depending on your previous test results. Even if you have stopped having sex, you should continue to have a Pap test. If you’ve had a hysterectomy, you may still need a Pap test, but talk to your doctor about whether this is necessary.

The most important risk factor for developing cervical cancer is infection of the cervix with human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is spread mainly through sexual contact (including sexual intercourse, genital skin-to-skin contact and oral sex) and the virus can appear years after you have been exposed to it. Using a condom during sex may decrease the chance that you will pick up HPV, but a condom can only provide partial protection as it doesn’t cover the entire genital area. A HPV vaccine is available to help prevent getting and spreading the virus. Contact the PEI Chief Public Health Office or your health care provider.

Pap test: a laboratory examination of cells taken from your cervix to detect abnormal changes.

For information about cervical cancer screening speak to your Family Doctor or Nurse Practitioner, or arrange an appointment by calling the

PEI Pap Screening Program: 1-888-561-2233

For general cancer screening information call:

Cancer Information Service: 1-888-939-3333

Visit cancer.ca for more information about cervical cancer.