Education Program for Health Care Providers Increases Women’s Access to Pap Tests in Central East Ontario

Posted on Friday January 25, 2019

Women living in Scarborough, Durham Region, Northumberland and Kawartha Lakes now have increased access to Pap tests, a simple test that helps prevent cervical cancer. Through a new simulation-based educational program, more health care providers including nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives will have advanced training and support to provide the test to women at local health centres.

“As a result of regular screening and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) immunization, cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable,” said Dr. Nathan Roth, Regional Cervical Screening/Colposcopy Lead for the Central East Regional Cancer Program. “This innovative educational program provides hands-on training to a variety of health professionals, preparing them to provide high-quality Pap tests to more women, right in their own communities.”

According to Cancer Care Ontario, every year approximately 500 Ontario women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 160 women die from it. The dramatic decline in death rates from cervical cancer over the last several decades is almost entirely attributed to the availability of the Pap test for regular cervical cancer screening.

Under typical circumstances, women over age 21 are recommended to take the Pap test every three years. However, some women are less likely to be screened for different reasons including lack of knowledge, language barriers and cultural factors. In Durham Region, cervical cancer screening rates are the lowest in Oshawa, Ajax and Pickering, particularly in communities where newcomers to Canada reside.

“Through this new program, health care professionals are being trained and supported to provide high-quality Pap tests in their home communities and in a way that meets unique needs of their populations,” said Tom McHugh, Regional Vice President of the Central East Regional Cancer Program and Executive Vice President of Patient Services at Lakeridge Health. “By making it easier for all women to access Pap tests, close to home, this unique program will help improve screening rates and the overall health of women throughout Central East Ontario.”

So far, over 70 health care providers from across the Central East Ontario have already participated in the program. The program is regional in scope, allowing providers to take classes in Scarborough, Peterborough and Oshawa. This program has been overwhelmingly popular among clinicians from across the Central East Ontario because they are now able to access specialized training in their own communities. The Central East Regional Cancer Program is interested in sharing this innovative program with other regions in Ontario who would benefit from it.

Please visit Lakeridge Health’s website for more information about cancer prevention and screening.