Cervical cancer is a largely preventable gynecologic cancer. Organized cervical screening programs exist in most Canadian provinces and in many countries around the world. These programs screen eligible individuals who do not have symptoms and are at average risk for cervical cancer.
Until recently, cervical screening programs used the Pap test as the primary screening test. But now that the link between the persistent presence of HPV, especially high-risk strains like HPV 16 and 18, and risk of cervical cancer is well established, HPV testing is emerging as the leading approach to cervical screening because it identifies individuals who are at increased risk of cervical cancer earlier than the Pap test and results in significantly lower likelihood of developing cancer.
Several countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Finland, have transitioned from the Pap test to the HPV test in their organized cervical screening programs and work is underway to do the same in Canada.