Cervical cancer screening and prevention

How to protect yourself from cervical cancer by getting a Pap test and the HPV vaccine.

Why you should screen

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer. Screening can help catch HPV infections before they become cancer.

  • almost 100% of all cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV
  • 3 out of 4 women will get the HPV virus at some point in their lives

There are usually no signs or symptoms.

What is HPV?

More information on cervical cancer screening (available in 26 languages)

When to go screening

Cervical cancer screening is recommended every 3 years for all women who:

  • are age 21 and older
  • have ever been sexually active

If you need treatment, your doctor will discuss the options with you.

Use the tool to find out about when you should get screened for cervical and other cancers.

Time to screen tool

Where to go for screening

See your doctor or nurse practitioner. They will do a simple test for you called a Pap test.

Learn more about Pap tests

Learn about abnormal Pap test results


All Pap tests are covered by OHIP.

Cervical Screening Program

The Ontario Cervical Screening Program is a program run by Cancer Care Ontario. This is a free reminder program. Every woman in the province who qualifies for a Pap test will receive a letter to remind them when it is time for screening.

  • you don’t need a doctor’s referral
  • you don’t need to sign up
  • you may drop out of the program any time

Learn more about the Ontario Cervical Screening Program

HPV vaccination program

The HPV vaccine is available to all Grade 8 girls in Ontario through clinics at school. OHIP pays for the program.

Learn more about the HPV program

Wait times

Use the tool and enter your postal code to see wait times for surgery, MRIs and CTs in your area.

Find out wait times

Tips to reduce your risk

  • go for regular Pap tests
  • consider HPV immunization
  • use a condom
  • maintain a healthy body weight
  • don’t smoke
  • stay active
  • manage stress levels
Updated: February 25, 2015