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Pap tests: an important way to help prevent cancer

Shannon Pethick wants Canadian women to know that in addition to saving lives, Pap tests can prevent potentially life-changing complications linked to cancer. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 32 and is now a strong advocate for cancer screening programs. In 2010, a Pap test confirmed that Shannon had cervical cancer and for the next 6 weeks, she underwent chemotherapy, radiation therapy and brachytherapy. She was declared cancer free in 2011. Because of these treatments, Shannon is now experiencing early menopause and is unable to have children.

Shannon says that at the time, "I did not pay attention to getting a Pap test. In fact, I didn't have one for many years. Having a regular Pap test could have prevented my cancer and I'd be able to have kids."

Now, Shannon talks to friends, family and just about any woman she meets about the importance of Pap tests.

If you're sexually active, the Canadian Cancer Society recommends having regular Pap tests by the time you are 21 every 1 to 3 years. This test can detect any precancerous changes or abnormalities in the cervix that may lead to cancer.

About half of all cancers are preventable and supporting cancer prevention is a big part of what we do. Learn more about prevention awareness volunteer opportunities with the Society.