The province has made changes to how often it says women should be screened for cervical cancer.
It had been the case that women aged between 21 and 69 were screened every two years, but that’s now been changed to every three years, and for women aged between 25 and 69.
Dr. Dirk Van Niekirk heads the Cervical Screening Program with the Provincial Health Services Authority, he says the new policy is about finding a balance between prevention, and avoiding possible complications from screening.
“The treatment can cause reproductive harms like an increase in premature birth.”
Van Niekirk adds that testing women under 25 wasn’t effective, as any abnormal cells found usually resolve themselves.
“We were looking for them sooner and when we found them we obviously had to treat them but we know that many of them go away [on their own].”
“The other thing is we know that cervical cancers are very uncommon in women under 25 so they’re only 1.3 per 100,000 young women in British Columbia.”
According to the PHSA, the chances of surviving cervical cancer if caught early enough is at 85%.