Regular screening important as women are 'still dying of cervical cancer', Sudbury doctor says | CBC News
If you have a cervix, there's a good chance a Sudbury doctor is going to encourage you to get screened for cancer.
Dr. Jennifer Jocko is the regional cervical screening and colposcopy lead for northeastern Ontario. She says the topic of cervical cancer comes up almost daily with her patients.
"Unfortunately, women are still dying of cervical cancer," she said.
"Cervical cancers that I see often are women who have not been screened for a number of years."
In fact, the Ontario Cervical Screening Program through Cancer Care Ontario recommends cervical screening every three years for anyone with a cervix between the ages of 21 and 69.
Jocko says unlike other types of cancer which can sometimes be felt, like breast cancer.
"You can't feel abnormal cells on your cervix," she said.
"It's not something you feel which is often times why it's harder to have women attend regular screening and it's also very much a private thing [and] for some women it's very challenging."
Jocko says cervical cancer typically isn't something that runs in families.
"Endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer... [it's] well stated in the literature that there are certainly genetic causes and they do run in families," she said.
"Unfortunately cervical cancer is its own beast, which is why it really knows no boundaries and why all women should be screened for it."
Jocko says it's not only important for women to get screened, but for anyone who has a cervix. That includes women, transgender men and gender non-binary people. She says reaching that population to encourage screening can be a challenge.
"Unfortunately, I do feel that a lot of these women, transgender men and non-binary people have a lot of concern and perhaps mistrust in the healthcare system because they're misunderstood," she said.
"To examine someone is a very intimate process."
Jocko adds the most common cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV. She says there is a vaccine for both women and men.
"There is no other vaccination out there that prevents cancer," she said.
"If we could increase the vaccination rates, we could certainly start to affect change in terms of women dying from cervical cancer."
National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week runs from until Oct. 25.
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