B.C. launches Canada's first self-screening cervical cancer plan, with at-home tests

  • Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — British Columbia is phasing out the pap test for cancer screening in favour of mail−in kits collected by patients.

The government says trials have shown that screening for the human papillomavirus, or HPV, is more effective at finding pre−cancerous lesions compared with the pap test.

Premier David Eby says it’s the first at−home self−screening program in Canada and it could make ending cervical cancer in B.C. a real possibility.

There are 15 types of high−risk HPV that can be associated with various cancers and if they aren’t cleared by the body, they could cause cells to change, leading to cervical cancer.

Starting Jan. 29, the kits can be ordered online or by phone and can be used at home and mailed in or taken to a health−care provider for screening.

The government says results will be returned within four to six weeks and the patient’s health−care provider will also get the information, but people don’t need a doctor to take the test and results will be linked to a community clinic if followup is needed.

The province says the change will mean less frequent testing, about every five years, and it improves screening accuracy, while reducing barriers to screening.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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