Women encouraged to get tested during Pap Awareness Week

Web Lead

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

In Creston, testing will be available by appointment any time next week, as well as on Nov. 3 from 5-7 p.m. at the Options for Sexual Health clinic at 312 15th Ave. N. Call 250-428-3877 for an appointment.

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,” said 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,” explained provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall. “That’s why we need to continue efforts to increase awareness across B.C. of regular screening in reducing women’s risk for cervical cancer.”

To encourage women to get Pap tests, the BC Cancer Agency focuses on its web-based community engagement campaign — the LACE Campaign (LACECampaign.com). The main message of “Live Aware. Create Empowerment” (LACE) is that Pap tests are important and empowering, and they save lives. The goal of LACE is to increase participation rates through awareness of how, with a simple test, women can prevent cervical cancer. LACE reminds women to get their Pap test regularly and asks women to spread the word to their family and friends. During last year’s campaign, 16 per cent of women tested had never had a Pap before, and about 50 per cent were overdue.

If you are a woman who has been putting off getting tested or you don’t have a family doctor, go to LACEcampaign.com now to find a clinic near you.

The BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer, and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit www.bccancer.ca.

— BC CANCER AGENCY