Cervix screening involves a test called a Pap test that can find abnormal cells in the cervix before they become cancer. If these abnormal cells are found and treated early, cervical cancer can be stopped from developing. By having a Pap test every three years, as recommended by BC Cancer, you can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by up to 70%.
Cervical cancer screening (Pap test)
can be done by a doctor, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, midwife or naturopathic doctor at their office or clinic.
For the test, you will need to undress from the waist down. You will be provided with a gown or a sheet to cover up. Then lie back on the medical table and put your feet up. When you’re comfortable, the health care provider will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina so they can see your cervix. Next, the health care provider will use a small spatula or brush to collect some cells from your cervix. Cervix screening is not usually painful, but can be uncomfortable.
The sample then goes to a lab to be examined. Your results will be sent to your health care provider. If there are any abnormal cells present, your health care provider will contact you.
An abnormal result
does not mean that you have cancer. However, it is very important to attend all follow-up appointments.
To get a cervical cancer screening call your health care provider or find a suitable clinic by visiting our clinic locator
For more information about the Pap test, watch the animated video below.
Video available in English, Cantonese, Mandarin & Punjabi
The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes almost all cervical cancers. HPV can take more than ten years to progress to pre-cancerous cells or cervical cancer.
Two groups of HPV can infect the cervix – low risk and high risk. Low risk types are not associated with cervical cancer but may cause genital warts and abnormal screening results. Long term infection with a high risk type of HPV may lead to cervical cancer or pre-cancerous cells.
HPV is very common and easily spread through any kind of sexual contact. This includes intimate touching, oral, vaginal and anal sex.
Most people will get HPV at some point in their lives – often without knowing it. Usually the body’s immune system removes the virus within two years. But sometimes HPV does not clear on its own, and over time, it can cause the cells of the cervix to become abnormal.