Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, which is located at the opening of the uterus. Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable with regular screening, appropriate and timely follow-up of abnormal results and human papillomavirus (HPV) immunization.
The Ontario Cervical Screening Program recommends that women who are or have been sexually active have a Pap test every 3 years starting at age 21. Cancer Care Ontario's cervical cancer screening guidelines provide more details for healthcare providers about when screening should start and how long women should wait between screens.
Screening is done using a Pap test. This is a simple screening test that can help prevent cervical cancer. A Pap test looks for abnormal cell changes on the cervix.
Often, abnormal cells naturally return to normal. If they do not return to normal, a Pap test looks for these abnormal cells to determine if treatment is necessary. If left untreated for a number of years, abnormal cells can slowly turn into cervical cancer.
A Pap test does not test for other cancers in the reproductive organs, such as ovarian cancer, or for sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
A Pap test is done in a healthcare provider’s office.
An instrument called a speculum is inserted into a woman’s vagina so her cervix can be seen. Cells are taken from the cervix and are sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope.
Invitation letters about cervical cancer screening are mailed to eligible women ages 30 to 69 to book a Pap test. Letters are also sent to women ages 21 to 69 to inform them of their test results and remind them when it is time to return for screening.Learn more about cervical cancer screening letters
The visualizations on this page begin by looking at screening rates throughout Ontario. This serves to give an idea of the absolute and relative numbers of people who are overdue for screening, and where they are concentrated.
The later visualizations add context to this data by displaying the incidence and mortality rates of cervical cancer, as well as risk factors divided by regions of Ontario.
This visualization shows screening rates divided by region of Ontario. The hexbinplot displays regions of Ontario as equally-sized hexagons, where darker colours indicate higher number of people overdue for screening. The stacked bar chart shows the same data, where the grey values are people who have been screened, coloured bars are overdue for screening, and the total length of the bar shows the number of people eligible for screening. Hover over the bars to display more information.
These graphs display incidence and mortality rates. The hexbinplots show rates from 2010-12 combined, divided by region and age groups. The line graphs indicate changes in rate over a three-year period, divided by age groups.
These graphs show socio-demographic variables and chronic disease risk factors for regions in Ontario. The hexbinplots show the percentage of the population in each region with each risk factor. The heatmaps show the same data as a table, including multiple years when available. To sort the heatmap, click on the rows and columns.