Originally published in Seaside Magazine, this article was written by our very own Jayme Van Vliet.
The Cervical Cancer Screening Program is an organized screening program in place to reduce cervical cancer incidence and mortality. Cervical cancer screening, commonly referred to as a pap test, is completed by a healthcare professional. A sample of cells are taken from the opening of the cervix in an area called the transition zone. The transition zone is where precancerous cellular changes occur. Cellular changes, also known as cell dysplasia, can be caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), an infection that can lead to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. There are vaccines now available to protect you against HPV.
The BC Cancer Agency recommends pap tests every three years for asymptomatic individuals between the ages of 25-69 who have had sexual contact. This includes those who fall into any of the following categories: individuals who have been through menopause; those who have had only one sexual partner or more or who have been with the same partner for a while; if the individual has had the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine; those who are in a same-sex relationship; or if you’re a transgender person with a cervix (2020).
According to the BC Cancer Agency, you should seek earlier screening if you are experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding; bleeding in between periods or during/after sex; bleeding after menopause; experiencing abnormal vaginal discharge or pelvic pain; or if you are experiencing pain during sexual intercourse (2020).
If you have an upcoming pap scheduled, please do not douche your vagina 48 hours before your appointment. It is best to get your pap during the middle of your cycle (two weeks after last period) to avoid having the pap done while you are menstruating. Contraceptive creams or jellies are not to be used for 48 hours before your appointment (BC Cancer Agency, 2020).
Shoreline Medical Society has discovered that a major challenge to receiving regular screening is a lack of access. To address this problem we have created “Pap Nights.” Shoreline Medical Pap Nights help to bring in individuals who consider themselves healthy and rarely see their doctor, those who cannot take time off work during regular office hours, or patients who do not have a family doctor. Walk-in patients are welcome to attend. Pap Nights run in the evening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A female physician or a Registered Nurse from the office will complete the Pap test for you. Shoreline Medical hosts Pap Nights at both their Brentwood Bay and Sidney locations. Pap Nights offer an inclusive and relaxing atmosphere and snacks and refreshments will be provided. By hosting Pap Nights and providing the opportunity to receive care outside of regular hours, Shoreline Medical is increasing the number of eligible patients who are receiving pap tests. The next Shoreline Medical Sidney Pap Night is April 22, 2020. Please call to secure your spot: Shoreline Sidney: 250-656-4143.
Are you due for a Pap test? Experiencing symptoms? Call your doctor to book your pap. Don’t have a doctor? Visit Shoreline Walk-in Clinic or call to book in for the next Pap Night. For more information about Pap tests please visit: http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/screening/cervix