‘Pap-A-Palooza’ is back. This is the fourth year of the campaign coordinated by Prevention and Screening Services at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. The month-long campaign increases awareness and encourages women to book a Pap test to get screened for cervical cancer.
“Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable with regular screening, follow-up of abnormal results, and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine,” explained Dr. Naana Jumah, Cancer Care Ontario Regional Colposcopy Lead for the Northwest region. “However, only around 60% of women in Northwestern Ontario who could be screened have participated in cervical cancer screening.”
Anyone with a cervix between the ages of 21 and 69, who has ever been sexually active, should complete a Pap test every three years. Almost half a million Ontario women between the ages of 35 and 49 are overdue for cervical cancer screening.
“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,” stated Dr. Jumah. “Regular cervical screening is important because it can find early changes that could lead to cervical cancer. Treating these changes can prevent cervical cancer from developing.”
Pap-A-Palooza has resulted in an increase of screening in our region during the month of April over the past few years. “Since 2016, over 900 Pap tests were completed as a part of the Pap-A-Palooza campaign,” said Julia Bailey, Screening Promotion Planner with Prevention and Screening Services at our Hospital. “This year, we aim to complete a total of 400 Pap tests.”
Pap-A-Palooza offers incentives for those who get screened. “All participating clinics will receive a number of small gift bags to hand out to patients who complete a Pap test throughout April. Gift bags include items intended to help one pamper themselves, such as mini nail polishes with toe separators. In addition to the gift bags, two grand prizes for $100 Best Buy gift cards will be drawn at the end of the month for lucky individuals who completed their Pap test,” said Bailey.
To find a participating clinic near you or to learn more about Pap-A-Palooza, visit www.tbrhsc.net/pap or call Pap-A-Palooza Hotline at (807)684-7787. For more information about cervical cancer screening, check out www.cancercareontario.ca/ccaw.