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Pap tests save lives










Cancer screening saves lives by checking for cancer or a pre-cancer when there are no warning signs or symptoms. The goal is to find and treat or remove a cancer or pre-cancer when the chance for a cure is the greatest.

Screening tests, like a Pap screening test for cervical cancer, looks for pre-cancers which can be removed. If pre-cancerous cells are found, they can be removed during a follow-up test called a colposcopy. Pap tests can also find cancer early when it can be treated more effectively.

Like all cancer screening tests, Pap tests should be done when people (women in the case of cervical cancer) are feeling well. They also need to be done regularly. Once is not enough to do a screening test.

Cervical cancer grows slowly beginning with changes in the cells of the cervix. It has no warning signs in its early stages and generally takes a number of years to develop. That’s why it is important to have a regular Pap test.

“A regular Pap test is a woman’s best protection against cervical cancer,” said Dr. Robert Grimshaw, Medical Director, of Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Program.

The Cervical Cancer Prevention Program was established in 1991 to lower the number of Nova Scotia women being diagnosed with cervical cancer and dying from it. Since then, Program staff has been working with family doctors, other health care providers and women to raise awareness about the importance of a regular Pap test in preventing cervical cancer. Below is a summary of what you need to know to prevent cervical cancer or find it early.

Preventing Cervical Cancer & Finding it Early: What you need to know
- A Pap test checks for cervical cancer when you are feeling well and before you have warning signs or symptoms
- A Pap test can find abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix and treat them before they become cancer
- Pap tests, like all cancer screening tests, need to be done regularly to work best and before you have any warning signs or symptoms. All women should talk to a doctor or health care provider about when they need their next Pap test and what regular Pap tests mean for them.
- How often a woman needs a Pap test depends on her screening history. Women can get a copy of their screening history by calling 1-800-480-8588
- A regular Pap test is a simple test that can save your life. To learn more about Pap testing, visit  

See our cervical cancer frequently asked questions (FAQ) for more information on screening.


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