It’s one of those appointments many women dread, but it’s also an appointment that could potentially save their lives.
The B.C. Cancer Agency is encouraging all women to get a Pap smear test done for Pap Awareness Week, taking place Oct. 24 to 30.
It is important for women to be tested regularly so that any abnormalities in the test can be caught early and dealt with early on, says Lisa Despins, the promotion and education specialist with the Cervical Cancer Screening Program at the Agency.
Despins says the Agency encourages women to be tested either when they turn 21 years-old or three years after they first become sexually active, whichever comes first.
She adds that, in general, women in the province would have the test done every year for three years and if no abnormalities are found, then most women would only need to have one done every two years afterwards.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society website, cervical cancer is the second most prevalent cancer affecting young adult women after breast cancer. However, the Society reports that both the incidence of cervical cancer as well as the death rate has been decreasing, which it attributes to better early detection through Pap smear testing.
Having the test done can really save a woman’s life. Despins says if any pre-cancerous cells are caught early – and before becoming cancerous – then the condition is almost 100 per cent treatable.
In the city, the Fort St. John Medical Clinic is holding drop-in Pap tests Oct. 25 to 29 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. All tests will be performed by a female doctor.
Residents in other cities across the province can click here to find out what clinics are holding Pap smear testing throughout the week.