Kingston and area residents without family doctors received important preventative cancer screening this week as Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) hosted its annual “Pap Party” cervical cancer screening clinic.
According to a release from KHSC, the Kingston clinic, which took place in the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023, was fully booked, seeing 88 individuals, marking a success for the program and patients in need of important routine screening.
The Southeast Regional Cancer Program (SERCP) of KHSC has been running these pop-up clinics for nine years at locations across southeastern Ontario. They are free to attend and open to anyone with a cervix who does not have a family doctor.
“These clinics are an important resource for anyone without access to a family physician or nurse practitioner, and it’s exciting to see patients taking charge of their health by signing up,” said Jessica Bonney, Regional Cancer Program Manager. “We managed to fill all available appointments and we expect that interest in future clinics will continue to grow.”
A “Pap Party” for residents in the Belleville area, in partnership with Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, and is also fully booked, indicating that those hoping to use the service should register with KHSC to be informed of any upcoming Pap Parties.Anyone without a healthcare provider can email [email protected] or phone 1-800-567-5722 ext. 6071 to learn more about future pop-up pap clinics.
KHSC said that routine testing can detect and prevent cervical cancer, which is primarily caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus. HPV can cause abnormal cell changes that can progress to cancer.
According to the release, the Ontario Cervical Screening Program is updating its guidelines but currently recommends that anyone with a cervix who has been sexually active have a pap test every three years, starting at age 21. The procedure, which takes approximately 10 minutes, can identify precancerous abnormalities early, which may otherwise develop into cervical cancer if left untreated.
“Cervical cancer can be difficult to identify without a pap test, but is highly preventable and treatable when detected early,” said Dr. Elena Park, Regional Cervical Screening Lead for the SERCP. “For precancerous cells, treatment is usually straightforward, and the likelihood of any long-term impact is minimal. The most important thing you can do is get screened regularly.”
According to Cancer Care Ontario, over 500 people were diagnosed with Cervical Cancer in Ontario in 2022, with most cases identified in individuals who have not been routinely screened.
KHSC said that individuals can take the following steps to reduce their risk of cervical cancer:
- Speak to a healthcare provider about getting vaccinated against HPV, if you have not already done so.
- Book a pap test with your healthcare provider if you haven’t been screened, or if it has been three years since your last test.
- If you don’t have a healthcare provider, you can email [email protected] or phone 1-800-567-5722 ext. 6071 to learn more about future pop-up pap clinics. You can also sign up for Health Care Connect, which connects unattached patients with available physicians and nurse practitioners.