Cervical Cancer Screening

Happy women

About 500 women are diagnosed with cancer of the cervix each year in Ontario and about 150 women die from this disease. Cervical Cancer is caused by a persistent HPV (human papillomavirus) infection and is almost entirely preventable. Regular screening with a Pap test is an essential defense against the development of cervical cancer. A Pap test finds cell changes in the cervix and treats them before they become cancer.

Who should be screened and when?

Starting at the age of 21, women who have had any sexual activity including skin to skin contact should be screened with a Pap test every three years. Contact includes intercourse, intimate touching or oral sexual contact, with either men or women.

What is the Ontario Cervical Screening Program?

The Ontario Cervical Screening Program is an organized, population-based screening program with the goal of reducing cervical cancer incidence and death. It also supports family physicians and nurse practitioners and provides screening guidelines so they can provide the best possible cervical screening for their patients. 

Want to book an appointment?

A Pap test is a simple test that can be done at your doctor’s office. Based on your results, the doctor or nurse practitioner will advise you if you need to have another Pap test or if you need to be referred to a specialist. If you don’t have a family doctor, contact your local health unit to set up an appointment.

Who is eligible to receive the HPV vaccine?

Women aged 9 – 26 should consider getting the vaccine to prevent HPV, available from a family doctor or local health unit. The vaccine, administered in three doses, is available free to grade eight girls through the voluntary school-based HPV vaccine program. Girls who missed the vaccine in grade eight may be eligible for a catch-up program offered by their local public health unit. Regular Pap tests and the HPV vaccine can help to eradicate cervical cancer.

For more information about cervical cancer screening visit  Cancer Care Ontario’s website.

media inquiries

Sara Wilson
Publicity and Promotions Specialist
South West Regional Cancer Program
519-685-8500 ext. 71826