It’s Pap-A-Palooza time! Prevention and Screening Services at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) has created a campaign called ‘Pap-A-Palooza’ to increase awareness and encourage women to book a Pap test to get screened for cervical cancer. Pap-A-Palooza will begin in April to mark Cancer Care Ontario’s first Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.
Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable with regular screening, appropriate and timely follow-up of abnormal results and HPV immunization. However, there are more women being diagnosed with cervical cancer in Northwestern Ontario than the rest of the province. In the Thunder Bay District the incidence rate for cervical cancer among women between the ages of 35 and 49 years is 28.3 cases per 100,000, in comparison to a provincial average of 21 per 100,000.
A Pap test is a safe, easy and effective screening test that looks for abnormal cervical cell changes. It’s the only way to detect the early changes that might lead to cervical cancer.
“Pap-A-Palooza is more than just a campaign; it’s putting knowledge into action,” says Jeanine Baxter, Screening Promotions Planner at TBRHSC. “As part of the campaign, 10 clinics across the region are offering increased access to cervical cancer screening. Some of these clinics are open to anybody from the public too.”
Cervical cancer screening is recommended for women aged 21 to 69 every three years if they are or ever have been sexually active, but almost half a million Ontario women between the ages of 35 and 49 are overdue for cervical cancer screening.
“Through the Ontario Cervical Screening Program, women aged 21 to 69 have access to comprehensive high-quality cervical cancer screening services,” says Dr. Joan Murphy, Clinical Lead, Ontario Cervical Screening Program, Cancer Care Ontario. “Many women in their 30s and 40s are busy taking care of others and may not make the time to focus on their own health. Our goal this month is to increase awareness about cervical cancer screening and encourage these individuals to book a Pap test if they haven’t had one in the past three years. Getting screened could save your life.”
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,” says Baxter. “That’s why it’s so important to ensure you’re up-to-date with your screening. A Pap test can be done at your health care provider’s office. If you don’t have a health care 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 months of April and early May, Pap-A-Palooza cervical cancer screening clinics are being offered in Thunder Bay, White River, Pic River, Manitouwadge, Vermillion Bay, Red Lake, and Fort Frances. As an added incentive, any woman who completes her Pap test in the month of April at a campaign clinic will automatically receive a ballot to win two weekend passes to Bluesfest 2016. Additionally, any women who complete their Pap test in the month of April can call the Cervical Hotline to have their name put into the draw.
Call the Cervical Hotline at (807)684-7787 to find out about a clinic offering Pap tests near you. For more information on cervical cancer screening, visit www.cancercare.on.ca/pcs/screening/cervscreening.
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