Cervical Cancer Prevention


Did you know?

  • Certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) cause cervical cancer.
  • HPV is a family of viruses commonly found in both men and women. HPV is passed from one person to another through intimate sexual contact.
  • Most people come into contact with HPV at some point in their lifetime. Usually there are no symptoms and often people do not know that they have an HPV infection. The infection usually goes away naturally within two years.
  • Most women who develop cervical cancer have had an HPV infection. But having an HPV infection doesn’t mean that you will develop cervical cancer.
  • Screening tests, like a pap test, detect cancer in the very early stages, or even before it becomes cancer.
  • Finding abnormal cervical cells early can:
    • Sometimes completely prevent the cancer from developing
    • Increase treatment choices
    • Treat cancer successfully
    • Decrease likelihood of cancer spreading
  • In the US, Black women are more likely to get cervical cancer and die from it, compared to white women.
  • In the UK, Black females, aged 65 years and over, are more likely to get cervical cancer compared with white women.
  • We don’t have race-based cancer information in Canada, but research in Canada and the UK shows that immigrants are less likely to get screened on time or at all (e.g. don’t get their pap tests on time or regularly enough)
  • Get screened on time and regularly – SCREENING CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE!

Here are some ways to lower your risk of cervical cancer

  • Talk to your doctor about the HPV vaccine and find out if you should get it.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can also increase your risk for cervical cancer, as well as many other cancers. Don’t start, and if you do smoke, get help to quit.
  • Have regular pap tests, every 3 years, if you are age 21-69 and have ever been sexually active.
  • Practice safer sex – use a condom (using condoms reduces the risk of HPV infection but doesn’t completely take it away).

 For more information on cervical cancer, risk factors and how to lower your risk, visit: The Canadian Cancer Society