New self-screening program will help detect cervical cancer sooner (

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Ministry of Health

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What people are saying about B.C.’s cervical self-screening program

Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health –

“Being able to order a free self-screening kit and receive results online or by mail will make a real difference in rural and remote communities. This will help ensure everyone has access to the care they need and reduce the number of people needing to travel outside their home community for cervical cancer screenings. Expanding cervical self-screening shows our government’s commitment to bringing preventative cancer care within reach for all of us.”

Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity –

“Screening is crucial to preventing cervical cancer. But a Pap test can be uncomfortable or not easily available for some people. We know that some individuals are not as likely as others to discuss reproductive health with a health-care provider, so self-screening can better connect them with the care they need. Self-screening improves accessibility for people, including transgender and gender-diverse people, new Canadians, Indigenous people and people who live in rural or remote communities.”

David Byres, president and chief executive officer, Provincial Health Services Authority –

“Through this partnership between BC Cancer and the Provincial Laboratory Medicine Services, both programs of the Provincial Health Services Authority, we’re making screening easier, more accessible and more accurate. HPV self-screening allows women and individuals with a cervix to screen where and when they want and detect the presence of high-risk types of HPV, making it possible to stop cancer before it starts.”

Andrea Seale, CEO, Canadian Cancer Society –

“In recent years, the rate of cervical cancer has been increasing despite it being the most preventable cancer. Because of this, cervical cancer screening, one of the most effective ways to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer and find it early, is critically important. The Canadian Cancer Society commends BC Cancer and the Government of B.C. for its world-class leadership by transitioning from cytology to primary HPV screening and introducing cervix self-screening.”

Bianca Michell, Tache (father)/Yekooche (mother), Lusilyoo clan –

“As someone who has experienced trauma, I avoided Pap tests because I did not feel safe or trust anyone to do this procedure. When I did a Pap test, it was always traumatic and it took a long time for me to recover mentally and emotionally. Today, with the at-home HPV self-screening test, survivors like me can do a self-test where and when we feel safe. I was able to access this test through the Carrier Sekani Family Services and the BC Cancer pilot project and ended up needing further testing. This saved my life.”

What to know about HPV test and self-screening
  • Introducing the new test provincewide allows traditional screening intervals to be extended from three to five years, which makes preventative care more convenient for people.
  • Demand for the traditional pap test will diminish over time. However, it will continue to be an important secondary test as needed. 
  • There are more than 100 types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that men and women can contract.
  • While most types of HPV cause no symptoms and go away on their own, some can cause health problems like a variety of cancers including cervix, anus, mouth and throat, penis, vagina and vulva, as well as genital warts.
  • Only long-term infection with high-risk HPV can cause pre-cancerous changes to the cells of the cervix, which can develop into cervical cancer if undetected and untreated.
  • HPV is transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact and can cause a variety of cancers.

Facts about the HPV test and self-screening:

Screening for HPV is a more accurate test than cervical cytology for identifying people at risk of developing cervical cancer. The HPV test has a higher sensitivity and negative predictive value than the current pap test.

A positive HPV test helps flag if a person is at risk for developing abnormal cells of the cervix, so those cells can be detected and treated early to prevent cervical cancer.

In December 2021, cervix self-screening was offered to people on central Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast in a pilot program later extended to include New Westminster, the Tri-Cities and Pemberton. Data showed an increase in the number of people who have never been screened or not screened in 10 years willing to participate in cervix self-screening.

Since the pilot launched, more than 13,000 people have participated. Through the pilot, 767 number of people tested positive for HPV and were recommended for followup.

How the cervix self-screening program works?

People will receive a letter in the mail when they are due to screen. They can then request a kit directly from the cervix-screening program by phone at 1 877 702-6566 or online at Once the sample is collected, the completed kit can be mailed free for analysis.

Results will be sent by mail or online to both the patient and their health-care provider within four to six weeks from the time the kit is mailed in. If people don’t have a family doctor or nurse practitioner, and they receive a positive test, they will be connected to a linked clinic in their community, where they can receive followup care and support.