CancerCare Manitoba
News Item

October 22, 2015

New Liquid-Based Cytology Technology Means Improved Cervical Cancer Care For Manitoba Women, Fewer Procedures: Minister Blady

Women in Manitoba are benefiting from technology introduced last fall for cervical cancer screening, Health Minister Sharon Blady announced today, noting this is Cervical Cancer Awareness Week.

"This innovative technology provides more accurate results the first time around, meaning fewer women need to go back for uncomfortable procedures," said Minister Blady. "Our investments in this state-of-the-art health-care technology are leading to faster turnaround time in the labs, meaning women are getting their results more quickly."

Diagnostic Services Manitoba (DSM), the organization responsible for Manitoba's public laboratory and rural diagnostic imaging services, implemented liquid-based cytology technology in October 2014. DSM also began using liquid-based cytology for some non-gynecological cancer screenings in April 2015.

Jim Slater, chief executive officer of DSM, said women may not have noticed the new technology, but it has improved the quality of samples being sent for microscopic examination.

"Before the introduction of liquid-based cytology, we would have had to collect a second sample nearly six per cent of the time," said Slater. "Now, that number is less than one per cent because the majority of the samples have been collected using liquid-based cytology. That's clearly better for women."

More than 132,000 cervical cancer tests are processed in Manitoba every year. The minister noted this means hundreds of women per year may not need to return to their doctors for retesting because of the improvements to reduce problem samples.

"This new testing process reduces the number of visits to family doctors, freeing their time to see other patients," said Minister Blady. "It also reduces health-care costs, as fewer samples have to be retested."

About 40 per cent of cervical cancer tests are provided by DSM, with the remainder processed by community lab partners Dynacare and Unicity. The minister noted that in working collaboratively with the CervixCheck program at CancerCare Manitoba, DSM undertakes regular quality assurance reviews to ensure Manitoba women can have confidence in the quality of their care and the accuracy of their test results.

Regular screening can prevent up to 80 per cent of cervical cancers by identifying and treating pre-cancerous changes. The success of the pap test has been well demonstrated in Manitoba by the relatively low number of women who are diagnosed each year, the minister said.

"It's significant that 60 per cent of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have not had a pap test in five years or more," said Dr. Sri Navaratnam, president and chief executive officer, CancerCare Manitoba. "Detecting cancer at an early stage may result in simpler treatment and a better outcome. That is why I urge women of all ages to get screened every three years."

The minister noted that liquid-based cytology builds on the province's commitment to shorten the cancer patient journey. The $40-million IN SIXTY initiative strives to expedite cancer testing and treatment for patients when cancer is first suspected to help get patients the most appropriate care as quickly as possible.

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