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New program increases access to pap tests

Oshawa’s rates for cervical cancer screenings low

Women living in Durham Region now have increased access to pap tests, a simple test that helps prevent cervical cancer.

Through a new simulation-based educational program, more health care providers including nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives will have advanced training and support to provide the test to women at local health centres.

“As a result of regular screening and HPV immunization, cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable,” said Dr. Nathan Roth, regional cervical screening and colposcopy lead for the Central East Regional Cancer Program. “This innovative educational program provides hands-on training to a variety of health professionals, preparing them to provide high-quality pap tests to more women, right in their own communities.”

Women over the age of 21 are recommended to take the pap test every three years.

However, some women are less likely to be screened for different reasons including a lack of knowledge, language barriers and cultural factors.

Oshawa, along with Ajax and Pickering, sees the lowest rates for cervical cancer screening in Durham Region, particularly in communities where new Canadians live.

According to Cancer Care Ontario, every year approximately 500 Ontario women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 160 women die from it.

According to a media release from Lakeridge Health, the decline in death rates from cervical cancer over the last few decades is almost entirely attributed to the availability of the pap test for regular cervical cancer screening.

So far, more than 70 health care providers from across the Central East Ontario region have already participated in the program.

The program is regional in scope, allowing providers to take classes in Scarborough, Peterborough and Oshawa.