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Information about Pap Tests and the SPCC

What causes cervical cancer?

Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is of the most common sexually transmitted infections that affects both women and men. HPV is passed from one person to another through intimate sexual contact. HPV can cause changes in the cells of the cervix that may develop into cervical cancer if left untreated.

What is a Papanicolaou (Pap) test?

A Pap test is a simple screening test that can help prevent cervical cancer. It looks for abnormal cell changes in your cervix. A Pap test is done in a healthcare provider’s office. An instrument called a speculum is gently inserted into your vagina so your cervix can be seen. Cells are taken from the cervix and sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope.

When should I start having a Pap test?

Women should have a Pap test starting at the age of 21 or three years after becoming sexually active, whichever occurs later.

How often should I have a Pap test?

You should have a Pap test every two years. Once you have had three consecutive normal results, you can have the test every three years. Women should continue having a Pap test until they turn 69. Some women may need a Pap test every year due to certain risk factors. Speak with your healthcare provider about what is right for you.

Are there symptoms to watch for between Pap tests?

Tell your healthcare provider right away if you start bleeding between periods, after sexual intercourse or after menopause.

Do I need a Pap test if I've had a hysterectomy?

If you had a subtotal hysterectomy (cervix still present) you should have a Pap test. If you had a total hysterectomy (cervix removed) you do not need a Pap test.

Can I choose not to participate in the SPCC?

All women with a valid Saskatchewan health card in the province are automatically registered in the SPCC when they turn 21 years of age. If you do not want to participate in the program, please contact the SPCC. Click here for more information about opting out.

How can I reduce my risk of cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer can be prevented with regular Pap tests. You can also:
- Get vaccinated against HPV. You will still need to have regular Pap tests, as the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV. Speak to your healthcare provider to see if the vaccine is right for you.
- Understand that sexual activity at a young age may increase your risk of being infected with HPV. Each new sexual partner also increases your risk.
- Use condoms, which may decrease your risk of HPV.
- Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.

I have moved/I am planning to move. How do I make sure my letters come to my new address?

Please update your address by calling 1-800-667-7551, emailing change@ehealthsask.ca or online at www.ehealthsask.ca.

How do I contact the Screening Program for Cervical Cancer?

Phone: 1-800-667-0017 or 1-639-625-2132
Email: info@saskcancer.ca
 

 

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