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Cervical cancer is most often found in women who do not get regular Pap tests
Posted on 2017/10/13

TORONTO, Oct. 16, 2017 – October 16 to 20 is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, and Cancer Care Ontario is encouraging women to stay up-to-date with regular Pap tests. It is estimated that in 2017, about 710 women in Ontario will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and about 150 women will die from the disease. The Ontario Cervical Screening Program (OCSP) recommends that women ages 21 to 69 get screened for cervical cancer every three years if they are or have ever been sexually active.

"Most cervical cancers are found in women who have never been screened or have been screened less often than recommended by Ontario’s cervical screening guidelines. This is why screening is so important," said Dr. Joan Murphy, Clinical Lead, OCSP, Cancer Care Ontario. "We see screening participation start to decline after age 50 even though the risk of cervical cancer remains, so women should continue to get screened until at least age 69."

Cervical cancer can affect anyone with a cervix who has ever been sexually active. It is recommended that women ages 21 to 69 have regular Pap tests, even if they:

  • Feel healthy and have no symptoms;
  • Are no longer sexually active;
  • Have only had one partner;
  • Are in a same-sex relationship;
  • Have been through menopause;
  • Have no family history of cervical cancer; and/or
  • Have received the HPV vaccine.

"Cervical cancer can be successfully prevented with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, regular screening, and appropriate and timely follow-up of abnormal results," said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "Regular screening is the best way to find early changes and prevent cervical cancer."

HPV infections are common, and up to 80 percent of sexually active men and women will have an HPV infection in their lifetime. HPV is passed from one person to another through intimate (i.e., skin to skin) sexual contact. While there are many types of the virus, only specific strains of HPV put a woman at risk for cervical cancer. HPV infections can result in an abnormal Pap test and infections commonly go away without causing any harm. If a cancer-causing HPV infection persists, it can lead to cervical cancer even among women in their 50s and 60s. Regular screening every three years can detect abnormal cells, which when treated, can prevent cancer from developing.

Women ages 21 to 69 are encouraged to speak with their healthcare providers about getting screened for cervical cancer. For more information, visit or the Federation of Medical Women of Canada to find a Pap test clinic being offered in your community during Cervical Cancer Awareness Week. To learn more about HPV immunization in Ontario visit:

About Cancer Care Ontario:

Cancer Care Ontario equips health professionals, organizations and policy-makers with the most up-to-date cancer knowledge and tools to prevent cancer and deliver high-quality patient care.

It does this by collecting and analyzing data about cancer services and combining it with evidence and research that is shared with the healthcare community in the form of guidelines and standards. It also monitors and measures the performance of the cancer system, and oversees a funding and governance model that ties funding to performance, making healthcare providers more accountable and ensuring value for investments in the system.

Cancer Care Ontario actively engages people with cancer and their families in the design, delivery and evaluation of Ontario’s cancer system, and works to improve the performance of Ontario’s cancer system by driving quality, accountability, innovation and value.

For more information, please contact:

Cancer Care Ontario Media Relations
Phone: 1.855.460.2646

Version française disponible.

Last modified: Fri, Oct 13, 2017
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