Let’s just get this unavoidable truth out of the way right now: no one loves a Pap test. They’re uncomfortable, sometimes embarrassing and all together unpleasant affairs. But (and this is a huge ‘but’) getting regular Pap tests can save your life. Period. So why, oh why, are the ladies of Ontario avoiding the stirrups? According to a study by the Toronto-based Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and St. Michael’s Hospital, nearly 40 percent of women living in Ontario’s urban areas = are not being appropriately screened for cervical cancer.
That number seems shockingly high; especially since pap tests are proven to be a highly effective screening tool for cervical cancer. In fact, researchers attribute a 53 percent decrease in mortality rates for cervical cancer in Canada between 1981 and 2002 to the widespread use of Pap tests. And girlfriends, these Pap tests are free (they’re covered by Ontario’s health insurance plan).
So why aren’t more women getting screened? Well, the ICES and St. Mike’s study suggests that screening rates are lowest for women who lived in low-income neighbourhoods and recent immigrants to Canada. Perhaps these women don’t have family physicians to explain the benefits of getting regular Pap tests, which is a huge problem in and of itself’according to Statistics Canada,15 percent of Canadians did not have a regular doctor in 2009.
When was the last time you got a Pap?