Pap-A-Palooza is back for the third year! The annual campaign kicked off April 1st with 27 clinics in Northwestern Ontario participating. With the goal to increase awareness of cervical cancer screening and to encourage women to book a Pap test to get screened for cervical cancer, Dr. Nanna Jumah, Obstetrician Gynaecologist, Regional Cervical Screening/Colposcopy Lead at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, urges those who are eligible to be screened for cervical cancer participate in the campaign.
“Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable with regular cancer screening,” encourages Jumah. “In our region, only 59% of women have been screened for cervical cancer. Regular screening is important because it can find changes in the cervix before it turns into cancer.”
The test to screen for cervical cancer is called a Pap test. During a Pap test, your healthcare provider wipes off some cells from the surface of the cervix. These cells are sent to a lab where they are then viewed under a microscope to see if they look normal or abnormal.
“Some abnormal Pap tests are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted through sexual contact. HPV causes changes on the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer. Pap tests screen for pre-cancerous changes caused by an HPV infection,” says Jumah.
Cervical cancer screening is recommended for women aged 21 to 69 every three years if they are or ever have been sexually active, but many Ontario women between the ages of 35 and 49 are overdue for cervical cancer screening. Cancer Care Ontario sends letters to women inviting them to book a Pap test and get screened for cervical cancer. Letters are also sent to women to remind them to follow-up with their healthcare provider about test results and let them know when it is time to return for screening.
“Most cervical cancers are diagnosed in women who have never been screened or have not been screened regularly. Women who have regular Pap tests have a lower risk of developing cervical cancer because pre-cancerous changes can be detected early and treated before they turn into cervical cancer,” insists Jumah.
A Pap test can be done at your healthcare provider’s office. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, you can get a test done at a walk-in clinic, sexual health clinic, or participate in Pap-A-Palooza to find a screening clinic near you.
During the month of April, Pap-A-Palooza cervical cancer screening clinics are being offered in Thunder Bay and the surrounding region, including many Indigenous communities and organizations. Sticking with the ‘palooza’ theme, as an added incentive any woman who completes her Pap test in the month of April at a participating clinic will receive a ballot to win a portable Bose speaker! Additionally, if your provider is not participating in Pap-A-Palooza, any women who complete their Pap test in the month of April can call the Pap-A-Palooza Hotline to have their name put into the draw.
For more information about Pap-A-Palooza, including participating clinics, call the Pap-A-Palooza Hotline at (807) 684-7787 or visit www.tbrhsc.net/pap.