FAQs

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, which is located at the opening of the uterus. Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable but it means getting screened with a Pap test.

What is cervical screening?

Screening for cervical cancer is done through a Pap test. It does not test for other cancers in the reproductive organs or for chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV. It also does not test for sexually transmitted infections.

Who should be screened for cervical cancer?

The Ontario Cervical Screening Program (OCSP) recommends that eligible women get a free Pap test every three years through their healthcare provider, such as a family doctor or nurse practitioner. Anyone without a healthcare provider can get a Pap test on the Mobile Cancer Screening Coach. Pap tests are recommended for women ages 21 to 69 who have ever been sexually active. 

How often should I be screened?

Cervical cancer screening is recommended every three years for women ages 21 to 69 who have ever been sexually active. The Ontario Cervical Screening Program (OCSP) will send you a reminder letter when it’s time to book your next appointment.

What is an unsatisfactory Pap test result?

An unsatisfactory result usually means that the sample collected from your cervix did not have enough cells, or the cells could not be seen well enough under the microscope. You will need to do your Pap test again. Thirty per cent of women will have an abnormal Pap test result in their lifetime. Cell changes found through Pap tests are very rarely cancer but do require follow-up testing.

Do we know what causes cervical cancer?

Most cervical cancers are caused by a common virus called HPV (human papillomavirus) which is easily spread through sexual contact, including intimate touching, oral, vaginal and anal sex. Three out of four sexually active people will get HPV at some point in their lives – often without knowing it. This doesn’t mean they will develop cervical cancer, but it’s important to screen for signs with a Pap test.

Can cervical cancer be prevented?

Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable, but it means getting a Pap test 

I am a member of the LGBTQ community and have a cervix. do I need a pap test?

Yes, anyone with a cervix should have a Pap test.For more information about screening for trans people please visit the Canadian Cancer Society’s Get Screened webpage