Taking action to eliminate cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is preventable and treatable when found early. Now, it’s time to eliminate it.

Multiethnic young friends enjoying together

Say good-bye to cervical cancer

Eliminating cervical cancer is an ambitious goal. But Canada has a plan, and partners across the country are putting it into action. Work is already underway to:

  • Increase the number of young people vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Introduce HPV primary screening
  • Improve follow-up when someone has a positive HPV test


Watch how leaders around the world are taking action to eliminate cervical cancer.

Taking action to eliminate cervical cancer video transcript

HPV vaccines—a good news story

Most cervical cancer is caused by HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection. HPV vaccination can prevent more than 90 per cent of cases, and school-based programs are well-established. But vaccination rates vary across Canada and rates dropped during pandemic school closings. Some communities—including First Nations, Inuit and Métis and youth who don’t attend school—face cultural and access barriers. Through Canada’s cancer strategy, innovative approaches are being developed to address these inequities and increase vaccination rates across the country.


HPV testing—a game-changer

Currently Pap tests are the most widely used method to screen for cervical cancer. But HPV primary screening is a more effective way to find HPV in cervical cells even before cancer cells develop—a game-changer that will save lives and help Canada reach its goal. Many jurisdictions are putting plans in place to switch to HPV primary testing, and one province has already launched a pilot project.

HPV primary testing can also offer another advantage. Self-sampling. That means people may have the option of collecting their own sample from their cervix using a swab from a screening kit. The benefits? Convenience, privacy, confidentiality, cultural safety and a new option for people who don’t have easy access to healthcare providers. That means more people will have access to cervical screening, including people who live outside urban areas or people who don’t have a primary healthcare provider.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is absolutely devastating. What if I had been able to receive the HPV vaccine sooner? What if my general practitioner had been able to screen me for HPV and I had received the follow-ups that I so desperately needed? Only a couple of things needed to be different, improved, and all of this would have been avoided for me and my family.

Cervical cancer can be a thing of the past. I know so many other women, who share stories just like mine, and it is simply not okay when the disease, and the trauma that it brings is preventable.

Cindy Howard
Winnipeg, Manitoba