Cervical cancer is caused by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV
). HPV is transmitted by sexual contact, not just sexual intercourse. HPV is very common and usually comes and goes without symptoms. For some women, HPV will not clear on its own, and cervical cells infected with HPV may become cancerous over time. If you've ever been sexually active, you need regular cervical cancer screening (Pap test).
Anyone with a cervix can take two steps to prevent cervical cancer – get screened every three years and get the HPV vaccine if they are between the ages of 9-45.
The HPV vaccine is provided free to girls and boys in Grade 6 in BC. The vaccine protects against types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer. If you have received the vaccine you still need to be screened, as the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. To learn more about the HPV vaccine, visit ImmunizeBC.