Caught early, cervical cancer can be curable for most patients.
And that’s why Pap tests are an important part of health care. Pap screenings are recommended, for people with a cervix between the ages of 25-69, every three years to reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer. But many face barriers to accessing this preventative test.
Pap tests help identify abnormal and possibly cancerous cells in the cervix. Undergoing routine Pap screening can decrease the risk of cervical cancer by up to 70 per cent, explains Anna Sarafis, a second-year Southern Medical Program student based at UBC Okanagan.
“Patients face long wait times, may be limited in accessing a family physician, or may feel uncomfortable accessing the test from their current health care provider,” says Sarafis.
An important cervical cancer screening event called The Papapalooza was developed in 2020 by Dr. Christine Layton and Dr. Kristi Kyle in Nanaimo as a way to offer Pap testing for individuals who experienced barriers to access during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian Federation of Medical Students has provided a grant for UBC medical students Anika Brown and Alisha Hussey to expand the model across the province.
Sarafis and fellow Southern Medical Program students Julie Zhao and Lauren Walgren were inspired by the highly successful Papapalooza events and are bringing this important initiative to the Okanagan. They garnered the support of community physicians to help deliver the outreach program to local patients.
On May 27, the Southern Medical Program students will join forces with Drs. Roxanne Conde, Joanna Bielby and Donna Sorensen to host the Okanagan’s first Papapalooza event at Turtle Bay Medical Clinic from 10 am to 4:30 pm. The clinic is located at 802-11850 Oceola Rd in Lake Country.
“Our goal is to provide about 100 Pap tests for people who otherwise face significant barriers in accessing this health care service,” adds Sarafis. “We want to provide a safe and comfortable environment for anyone to participate in this life-saving cervical cancer screening.”
Interested participants are requested to complete an online form at: events.ok.ubc.ca/event/papapalooza-southern-medical-program-student-initiative
They will then be contacted by phone to discuss eligibility and confirm an appointment time.