Cervical cancer screening (Pap test) is a test that can find abnormal cells in the cervix before they become cancer. This is done by looking at your cervix through a speculum, brushing or gently scratching a few cells from the cervix, putting them on a slide, and sending them for analysis at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver. Results usually take about 4-6 weeks. If any abnormal cells are found, then we refer you to the Colposcopy Clinic. Having regular Pap tests can prevent 7 out of 10 cases of cervical cancer.
Most cervical cancer is caused by HPV, the Human Papilloma Virus- specifically strains 16 and 18. There 2 vaccines that are approved to prevent HPV; Gardisil® and Cervarix®. Contact Immunize BC for more info on HPV vaccines. www.immunize.bc.ca
Women age 25-69 should be screened every 3 years. You still should get a Pap test if you have had the vaccine, have only 1 sexual partner, are in a same sex relationship or are not having sex. You can stop at age 69 if your results have always been normal. Women ages 25-50 with a family physician or have seen a physician require a referral, women over 50 require referral.