Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in Canadian women ages 20 to 44.
And while South Asian women in BC have a 1.5 to 4.5 times higher incidence of invasive cervical cancer than other women, it is estimated that their screening rates are much lower.
In fact, compared to the provincial average of 69.3 per cent, recent screening rates for all women ages 20 to 69 in Abbotsford is just 51.8 per cent.
To help raise awareness of the simple, life-saving screening available for free, the Abbotsford Division of Family Practice, a non-profit supporting doctors and the health projects and programs they lead, launched a project with community partners to increase cervical cancer screening in Abbotsford.
While the focus is on South Asian and new immigrant women, the project supports all women who experience gender, cultural and other barriers to screening.
Get the test:
Cervical cancer screening (a PAP test) is a free test that takes only a few minutes and can find abnormal cells in the cervix before they become cancer. Nine in 10 cases of cervical cancer can be prevented by having regular PAP tests and following up on any abnormal results. Women aged 25 to 69 should be screened every 3 years, or more often if asked by their doctor.
Women are encouraged to ask their doctor or doctor’s secretary for a PAP test. Doctors and secretaries are expecting women to ask for this simple procedure and will book it. Women who feel more comfortable having a female provider do the PAP test can ask their doctor or doctor’s secretary to organize this.
Spread the word:
At one of five recent community education events through the Abbotsford Division Increasing Cervical Cancer Screening project, 120 South Asian women gathered at Gian’s Banquet Hall to learn about the importance of cervical cancer screening.
Funded by Shared Care, and partnering with Abbotsford Community Services, BC Cancer and the Fraser Health South Asian Health Institute, the event welcomed Dr. Sandeep Basanti, Dr. Harleen Bhatti and RN Ruby Gidda, who shared excellent health information and answered participants’ questions. Sukhwinder Bahga, Abbotsford Community Services, supported the event translation and co-ordination.
“This was a successful community education event,” explained Dr. Elizabeth Watt, the physician leading the project. “The women asked great questions. Awareness was raised about the health importance of screening. We encouraged event participants to tell other women that cervical cancer screening can save their lives, and to talk to the doctor or doctor’s secretary about booking a PAP test.”
Download a copy of the awareness poster available in English, Punjabi, Korean, Arabic and Spanish from the Abbotsford Division of Family Practice website: divisionsbc.ca/abbotsford/CervicalCancerposter
For more information, email the Abbotsford Division of Family Practice at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-746-3302.