Screening is testing done on people who are at risk of getting cancer, but who have no symptoms and generally feel fine. The cervix is a body part that connects the uterus (womb) to the vagina (genital opening). Cervical cancer is cancer in the cervix. The goal of cervical screening is to find cell changes in the cervix before they become cancer.
Cervical cancer deaths are more frequent in areas of the world where cervical screening is not available. The dramatic decline since the 1980s in the rate at which Ontario women develop and die from cervical cancer is almost entirely due to screening.
A Pap test is a screening test that can detect cell changes in the cervix that may lead to cancer before people feel any symptoms. It is important that these cell changes are found and, if necessary, treated before they can cause cervical cancer.