A smear campaign against cervical cancer

OTTAWA, Oct. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - The Federation of Medical Women of Canada (FMWC) has joined forces with the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) and the Society of Canadian Colposcopists (SCC) to launch this year's Pap test campaign during Cervical Cancer Awareness Week. Together, we hope to increase the scope, reach and impact of the campaign. With this collaborative effort, we aim to provide more Pap tests and deal with abnormal results in a more expeditious manner.

During the week of 26 to 30 October 2009, physicians have been invited to take a stand against cervical cancer by hosting public Pap test clinics in their community. Today, Canadian women are invited to make it a priority to get a Pap test and to take advantage of these public clinics.

No doctor? No problem. Women who do not have a family doctor or gynaecologist will be able to drop-in or book an appointment with participating physicians during this campaign. Last year's event saw almost 500 women receive a Pap test, most of which had not been tested for far too long. For women who did have a physician, the publicity around the campaign served as an excellent reminder to book their appointment. With any luck, these numbers will be even higher this year.

"The Pap test is a woman's best defense against cervical cancer. The test consists of taking a sample of cells from a woman's cervix and sending it to a laboratory for testing. It is the only way to detect abnormal cells in the cervix which, if left untreated, could develop into cancer," says Dr. Michel Fortier, President of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.

No time? The more important question is: Can you afford not to take the time? Every year, in Canada, 1,300 to 1,500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and almost 400 women die of this disease. These public Pap test clinics are making it as convenient as possible for women to get tested.

"Cervical cancer deaths have decreased by 60% over the past 30 years, mainly due to Pap screening programs, yet there are millions of women who don't get regular Paps," says Dr. Andrea Canty, FMWC President.

Women should have their first Pap test within 3 years of any sexual contact or by age 21. They should then have regular Pap tests as often as their health-care provider recommends. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 15% of women have never been screened and 30% have not been screened in the last 3 years!(i)

One of the most common reasons for abnormal Pap test results is an infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in Canada. In fact, the majority of Canadians (75%) will get HPV at least once in their lifetime. Like other infections, HPV may go away without any treatment or problems - but certain low-risk types may cause warts in the genital area, and at least 15 high-risk types may cause cancer.

"While HPV vaccines may prevent up to 70% of cases of cervical cancer in the future, there is no substitute for a Pap test for early diagnosis," emphasizes Dr. James Bentley, President of the Society of Canadian Colposcopists. "Regular Pap tests are a key part of a healthy woman's life, whether or not she has had the HPV vaccination. Women must remember that the vaccine does not protect from all types of HPV, so there is still a risk of developing cervical cancer if you are infected with one of these other types."

Note: A list of participating doctors and clinics is posted on the FMWC website at www.fmwc.ca

About the FMWC

The Federation of Medical Women of Canada (FMWC) is a national organization committed to the professional, social and personal advancement of women physicians and to the promotion of the well-being of women both in the medical profession and in society at large. Established in 1924, the FMWC is also an independent nation member of the Medical Women's International Association. For more information, please visit: www.fmwc.ca.

About the SOGC

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) is one of Canada's oldest national specialty organizations. Established in 1944, the Society's mission is to promote excellence in the practice of obstetrics and gynaecology and to advance the health of women through leadership, advocacy, collaboration, outreach and education. The SOGC represents obstetricians/gynaecologists, family physicians, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals working in the field of sexual reproductive health. For more information, visit www.sogc.org.

About the SCC

The mission of the Society of Canadian Colposcopists (SCC) is to strive for the provision of the highest quality of care in the detection and treatment of diseases and pre-invasive lesions of the lower genital tract; to recommend and strengthen the basic standards in the training program in colposcopy and associated treatment modalities; to encourage basic, clinical and epidemiologic research in colposcopy and lower genital tract disease; to develop and recommend clinical practice guidelines for colposcopy; to provide an educational forum for interdisciplinary presentation, discussion, and publication of scientific inquiry into colposcopy and pre-invasive cervical disease other benign lesions of the lower genital tract.

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    References
    ----------

    -   i & ii Public Health Agency of Canada website:
        http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/updates/cervix-98-
        eng.php

    -   For additional information about the human
        papillomavirus (HPV), visit www.hpvinfo.ca.

    -   For additional information about the Pap test and to
        view a video entitled My First Pelvic Exam (Pap Test)
        and Breast Exam, visit www.sexualityandu.ca
    

SOURCE FEDERATION OF MEDICAL WOMEN OF CANADA (FMWC)

For further information: For further information: or to request an interview, please contact: Susan Dallin O'Grady, Executive Coordinator, Federation of Medical Women of Canada, Tel: (613) 569-5881, or Toll free: 1-877-771-3777, Email: fmwcmain@fmwc.ca, Web: www.fmwc.ca; Natalie Wright, Director - Communications and Public Education, Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, Tel: (613) 730-4192, or Toll-free: 1-877-561-2416, ext. 366, Email:nwright@sogc.com, Web: www.sogc.org

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FEDERATION OF MEDICAL WOMEN OF CANADA (FMWC)

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Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

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