Pop in for a pap
This is not your usual pop-up shop. For anyone with a cervix, a one-day only Pop-Up Pap Test Clinic offered by St. Joseph’s Health Care London could save their life.
London, Ontario - When a routine pap test for Tiffany Lukas found changes in her cervical cells, the findings were not good. But the bad news was quickly followed by great news in a whirlwind of emotions for the then 34-year old.
In the Colposcopy Clinic of St. Joseph’s Health Care London (St. Joseph’s), Tiffany was assessed and underwent a minor procedure, which found she had a very early cancer of the cervix. Left untreated it would have progressed to a more advanced invasive cancer of the cervix requiring much more aggressive treatment. But diligence in screening meant Tiffany avoided that fate.
“The day I found out my cervix had microinvasive squamous cell carcinoma, the cancer had already been removed from my body. I felt fear and relief all at the same time.”
Each year, about 1,550 Canadians are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 400 will die from it. Yet cervical cancer can most often be prevented with regular cervical screening (pap test) and follow-up of abnormal results. And on Jan. 29, St. Joseph’s, in collaboration with the South West Regional Cancer Program, is making it easier than ever to get a pap test with a one-day only drop-in Pop-up Pap Test Clinic. No appointment necessary.
The Colposcopy Clinic located at St. Joseph’s Hospital provides specialized cervical screening and care to those with abnormal pap results. People normally require a referral to the clinic but during the Pop-Up Pap Test Clinic the doors are open for routine screening to anyone age 25 and older who has not had a pap test in the past three years. It’s the first such clinic of its kind being offered to the general public in the London area and it’s hoped it will become a model for additional pop-up clinics across the region.
A pap test, also called a pap smear, is an exam used to look for changes in cervical cells that may develop into cancer later. Cells are taken from the surface of the cervix and sent to a lab to be examined under a microscope.
Getting regular pap tests is critical in identifying early changes to cervical cells when they may be easier to treat, and when treatment can prevent cervical cancer from developing, explains Dr. Robert Di Cecco, Medical Director of St. Joseph’s Colposcopy Clinic and Regional Lead for Cervical Screening for the South West Regional Cancer Program.
“Dealing with cancer of the cervix is a traumatic experience for the patient and their families,” says Dr. Di Cecco. “The treatments for cervical cancer can be very invasive and take a huge physical and emotional toll on the individual and their families. Success of those treatments depends on how early it’s caught. Timely screening allows for the detection of changes before they become cancerous – changes that place the individual at risk. The identification of precancerous changes allows us to remove these abnormalities with minor procedures that do not result in a major upheaval to the individual’s life.”
Most cervical cancers are found in individuals who have never been screened or who have not been screened regularly, as recommended by Ontario’s cervical screening guidelines, adds Dr. Di Cecco. Screening is usually performed by health care providers in the community. However, with one in five Canadians – about 6.5 million people – currently without a family doctor, many individuals are likely missing out on this important aspect of preventative care.
“We hope people take advantage of the pop-up clinic,” says Dr. Di Cecco. “Screening is only effective if someone gets screened.”
Dr. Robert Di Cecco, Medical Director of St. Joseph’s Colposcopy Clinic and Regional Lead for Cervical Screening for the South West Regional Cancer Program, is available to speak to media today, Thursday and Friday. Tiffany Lukas is also available.
For more information and to arrange an interview, contact:
Dahlia Reich, Communication Consultant
St. Joseph’s Health Care London
519 646-6100 ext. 65294, Cell: 519 619-0971
About St. Joseph’s Colposcopy Clinic
Colposcopyis a medical procedure used to closely examine the cervix, vagina, and vulva. A colposcope is a magnifying instrument used to inspect the tissues for any abnormalities or signs of cervical cancer. St. Joseph’s highly specialized Colposcopy Clinic provides cervical screening to individuals with abnormal pap results. Visits to the clinic are by referral from a health care provider in the community if a pap result or pelvic exam reveals abnormalities. Colposcopies are routinely completed within the clinic to identify abnormalities of the female reproductive tract, such as inflammation of the cervix and precancerous changes in the tissue of the cervix, vagina and/or vulva. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment is performed in the clinic to destroy or remove abnormal cervical tissue.
About St. Joseph’s Health Care London
Renowned for compassionate care, St. Joseph’s Health Care London is a leading academic health care centre in Canada dedicated to helping people live to their fullest by minimizing the effects of injury, disease and disability through excellence in care, teaching and research. Through partnership with Lawson Health Research Institute and our collaborative engagement with other health care and academic partners, St. Joseph’s has become an international leader in the areas of chronic disease management; medical imaging; specialized mental health care; rehabilitation and specialized geriatrics; and surgery. St. Joseph’s operates through a wide range of hospital, clinic and long-term and community-based settings, including: St. Joseph’s Hospital; Parkwood Institute; Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care; and the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care. sjhc.london.on.ca