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STI screening rates and revised cervical cancer screening guidelines in Ontario
Our response to a study published in Canadian Family Physician on October 15, 2015.
Posted on 2015/12/18

A study published in Canadian Family Physician on October 15, 2015 found in a sample of young women in Ontario a decrease in the screening rate for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) following the release of new cervical cancer screening guidelines in 2012. Since the launch of the Ontario Cervical Screening Program (OCSP), Cancer Care Ontario has used evidence-based guidelines that are reviewed regularly and revised as indicated by emerging science. In 2012, based on a large body of evidence, Cancer Care Ontario issued new guidelines that recommended screening every 3 years.

Scientific evidence shows that screening for cervical cancer more frequently than every three years does not offer additional benefits over more frequent screening. Appropriate screening remains one of the most effective ways to reduce a woman’s chance of developing or dying from cervical cancer.

This study and other sources of data document an anticipated and intended decrease in frequency of cervical cancer screening in Ontario women. It is important for women to know that a Pap test does not test for other cancers in the reproductive organs, such as ovarian cancer, or for sexually-transmitted infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Health care providers may need to re-examine the way they approach other health interventions that have traditionally taken place at the same time as annual cervical screening.

Cancer Care Ontario supports appropriate and timely STI screening but strongly advocates that it be made available as an independent intervention based on strategies to achieve optimal outcomes. It should not be linked inappropriately to other interventions such as the Pap test.

To learn more about Cancer Care Ontario’s cervical cancer screening guidelines, please visit our website.

Last modified: Mon, Dec 21, 2015
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