Every year there are 400,000 Canadian women who receive news that their Pap test results are not normal. The voice of women physicians, The Federation of Medical Women of Canada ( wants to change that. This month they are launching an awareness campaign aimed at physicians to urge their female patients to have a PAP test. #endcancer
Cervical cancer is the 4th most common reproductive cancer in Canadian women today.
This year, 1500 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and sadly 380 women will die. Cervical cancer is a malignant tumour that starts in the cells of the cervix. Malignant means that it can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body. Cells in the cervix sometimes change and no longer grow or behave normally. Changes to cells of the cervix can also cause precancerous conditions. This means that these cells are not yet cancer, but there is a chance that these abnormal cells might become cancerous if not treated. Most women with precancerous changes of the cervix are successfully treated and don’t develop cancer. *
Cervical Cancer is Preventable!
Most cervical cancers are diagnosed in women who have never been screened or have not been screened regularly. Screening is the only way to detect the early changes that might lead to cervical cancer.  I can’t emphasize enough how important is to have a PAP test. In Ontario PAP tests are recommended at the age of 21, if the individual has ever been sexually active. If the test is normal, then screening should be done every three years.
HPV and Cervical Cancer can be prevented with vaccines.
Another way to protect against cancer is to get vaccinated against HPV, the Human Papillomavirus. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection with more than 40 types of HPV contracted through sexual intercourse, genital skin-to-skin contact and oral sex. They can infect the genital areas of men and women, including the penis, vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum and anus.
There are millions of women in Canada who still do not get regular PAP tests and/or a HPV vaccination.We are fortunate in Canada to have access to government-funded healthcare. Prevention is the best way to reduce your chances of facing a serious illness.

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  1. 4th most common reproductive cancer shows how rare this actually is. Please post some comments on the damage caused my necessary colposcopy procedures over a lifetime. Please post something about “informed consent”. I was kicked out of a so-called FHT for refusing a pap test as a requirement to get migraine care, this was when they were giving up screening bonuses, conveniently not mentioned to the patients. This in a province with no private options for medication except street drugs. You need to give your head a shake. I’m sick of Cancer Care Ontario bullying and no informed consent for women, not ever. The privacy commissioner told me to lobby my MPP to get the law changed as women have no rights to refuse apparently. What about allowing the Dutch Delphi-screener if you’re so concerned. Oh no, can do, it’s not about women having any choice, it’s control by doctors who aren’t giving you a true rating of your personal risk. HPV- and no sex in 23 years – ma’am what exactly are my risks, 0000001% but no migraine drugs for YOU anyway.

    • I understand you have had a difficult time and a frustrating experience. Hopefully you can share your feeling with your primary care provider. When we discuss guidelines, it is meant as a broad based overview for the general population And yes, the statistics speak for themselves.
      In 2012 there were an estimated 266,000 deaths from cervical cancer. The vast majority of these cervical cancer deaths (90%) occur in less developed regions, which is most likely due to the lack of screening programs. Since screening began in developed countries, the number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer has dropped by an average of 4.5% each year. This is most likely because women are able to detect subtle changes earlier, preventing the progression to cancer with preventative treatment.
      But guidelines do not replace judgement and clinical decision making. That is between you and your doctor.
      Good luck and best wishes
      Dr. Vivien Brown

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