New campaign, Let’s Talk About Cervical Cancer Screening, to encourage First Nation women to participate in regular Pap testing

September 21, 2016

SUDBURY, ON – With regular screening, cervical cancer is a preventable disease. That’s the message behind new educational tools developed by the North East Aboriginal Cancer Screening Network in partnership with the North East Cancer Centre.

While cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates have been declining in Canadian women as a result of more women being screened and the availability of the HPV vaccination, First Nations women are less likely to participate in screening programs and more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Dr. Jennifer Jocko, North East Regional Cervical Screening & Colposcopy Clinical Lead for at the Northeast Cancer Center at Health Sciences North says First Nations women are under screened, “We know that while screening is a critical cancer control strategy and Ontario has organized screening programs, including a cervical screening program, participation rates for First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples are lower than the general population, more so here in the north than our counterparts in the south”.

As part of its third Aboriginal Cancer Strategy, Cancer Care Ontario is working through Regional Cancer Programs and community partners to address the many personal, cultural and systemic barriers to screening for First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. The second Northeast Aboriginal Cancer Plan has clearly defined actions to increase cancer screening for First Nation, Inuit and Metis People. Screening is a critical cancer control strategy and increasing participation rates in Ontario’s organized screening programs has been identified as an important priority.

Elizabeth Edgar-Webkamigad, Co-Chair, North East Aboriginal Cancer Screening Network, says the contribution of the North East Aboriginal Cancer Screening Network in the development of the new brochure and this campaign was immense: “Over the past several months, the members of the network have readily shared their time, experience and cultural wisdom with the goal of creating a greater awareness of cervical cancer screening as an essential defense against cervical cancer.”

With the ongoing support of the Northeast Aboriginal Cancer Screening Network, “Let’s Talk About Cervical Cancer Screening” resources will be available through Aboriginal health service providers. In addition to a public services announcements and brochures, presentations and activities will be taking place in Northeast First Nation communities in the coming months.

In the early stages, cervical cancer usually has no symptoms and can only be detected through screening. All women over the age of 21, who are or have ever been sexually active and who haven’t been screened in the last three years are encouraged to book a Pap test through their health care provider or local health center.

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