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2. Screening/Early Detection


The early detection of precancerous lesions, through the Papanicolaou (Pap) smear, can prevent invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix. This test was introduced in Canada in the mid-1960s and is widely used in British Columbia.  Since June 2016, BC Cancer has adopted a new cervical cancer screening policy, which recommends screening women aged 25-69 every three years. Changes to British Columbia’s cervical cancer screening policy are based on recommendations from two BC-based expert reviews. Regular Pap smear screening continues to be the most effective method to diagnose lesions which are in a pre-clinical and pre-invasive state where the opportunity for cure is uniformly high.  

Cervical Cancer Screening Program

Average risk screening start age
Cervical cancer screening should begin at age 25. 

Average risk screening interval
Average risk women between the ages of 25-69 should be screened every three years.  

Average risk screening stop age
Screening can stop at age 69 if results have always been normal.  

Higher than average risk screening recommendations
Immunocompromised individuals and those previously treated for dysplasia are considered at high risk of developing cervical cancer and should be screened annually.  

For more information on British Columbia's Cervical Cancer Screening Policy, please click here.

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