CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — During national Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, October 19 to 23, Island women are reminded how important it is to be screened regularly for cervical cancer, says Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie.
“Regular screening can prevent cervical cancer,” said Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie. “I encourage women to participate in our province-wide pap clinics which make it easier to be screened at the right time.”
Cervical cancer screening clinics were introduced this year through primary care health centres in Tignish, O’Leary, Summerside, Charlottetown, Montague and Souris. By September, 890 pap tests were performed through the provincial service. Outreach clinics are being planned in communities such as Hunter River, Kensington and Lennox Island.
A new online option for making a cervical screening appointment is now available through Health PEI’s website. The easy to use online option is another convenient way for Island women to make an appointment at a provincial cervical cancer screening clinic that is most convenient for them. From early June through September 30, 134 Island women requested an appointment online.
“We know that cancer screening can save lives. Over the past year, we have made a number of changes to the provincial screening service to make it easier for women to make an appointment and access the screening services in a community closest to them on a regular basis,” says Colorectal/Cervical Cancer Screening Coordinator Ann Millar. “We encourage Island women to learn more about cervical cancer, its risk factors and make an appointment to get screened today.”
Provincial guidelines recommend that women between the ages of 21 and 65 who are or have been sexually active have a pap test – every two years if they are of average risk and every year if there is a history of cervical cancer, treatment for abnormal cells or a weakened immune system.
The most important risk factor for developing cervical cancer is human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Nearly 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV. HPV vaccine (Gardasil) is offered to all students in grade 6 as part of PEI’s School Immunization Program.
Other risk factors for cervical cancer include sexual relations before the age of 19, having multiple sexual partners, giving birth many times, as well as lifestyle factors such as smoking.
Island women can make an appointment for a pap test by calling the provincial Cervical Cancer Screening Service at 1-888-561-2233, submitting an online appointment request or calling their family physician or nurse practitioner.
For more information on cervical cancer screening on Prince Edward Island, including clinic information and to make an appointment online, visit www.healthpei.ca/papscreening.