Cervical Cancer Screening at a Glance
Ontario Cervical Screening Program (OCSP)
All women, starting at age 21, who are or ever have been sexually active.
- Sexual activity includes intercourse, as well as digital or oral sexual activity involving the genital area with a partner of either gender
- Women who are not sexually active by 21 years of age should delay cervical cancer screening until sexually active
Women should screen for cervical cancer every three years.
Screening with a Pap test is the only way to find cell changes in the cervix that may lead to cancer. A Pap test does not test for other cancers in the reproductive organs or for chlamydia, gonorrhea or HIV. A Pap test is done in a healthcare provider’s office and only takes a few minutes.
About the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is a very common family of viruses found in both males and females. Some HPV types can cause cause cancer of the cervix (cervical cancer) if these HPV infections are not found and treated with regular Pap tests and the HPV vaccine, women can help prevent cancer of the cervix.
Resources and Information
In 2012, the OCSP released updated cervical screening cytology guidelines. Cancer Care Ontario has implemented a correspondence program that sends test result letters to women in Ontario, who have had a screening test or are due for their next screening, and sends invitation letters to women who have not been screened for cervical cancer in the prior three years. These letters serve as reminders and encourage women to talk to their healthcare provider.
- Clinical Guidance: Recommended Best Practices for Delivery of Colposcopy Services in Ontario
- Ontario Cervical Cytology Guidelines: Summary
- Cervical Cancer Screening FAQ
- What an Abnormal Pap Test Means (patient handout)
- HPV Information and Fact Sheet
- HPV Vaccination Program in Ontario
Reference:Cancer Care Ontario