Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Over 80% of Canadians will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime.

HPV is spread easily through past or current sexual contact which includes oral, genital, and/or anal skin-to-skin contact, or sex with sex toys.

Most people show no symptoms of the virus and their body's immune system will clear the infection.

There are more than 100 types of HPV. Some types of HPV cause genital warts. Others can cause abnormal cells on the cervix and cancer. HPV has also been linked to cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, mouth, and throat. Most HPV infections will not progress to cancer. 90% of HPV infections will go away on their own without any treatment within 2 years.

Age 21-69?

Most women age 21 to 69 who have ever had sexual contact should have a Pap test every 3 years. Transgender patients with a cervix should have a Pap test every 3 years.

During a Pap test, cells are taken from the cervix, and sent to a lab for assessment. In more cases, the cells are normal. Sometimes abnormal changes caused by HPV can become cancerous. A Pap test can find these abnormal changes before they turn into cancer. Regular Pap tests with follow-up for abnormal changes can prevent most cancer of the cervix.

The Pap test does not check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea or chlamydia. Ask your doctor or nurse about testing for STIs.

 (c) CancerCare Manitoba

Get a CervixCheck!

Book an appointment with your regular healthcare provider, or find a Pap test clinic near you!

Make a Pap test appointment with your doctor or nurse, or enter your postal code in the map below to find a Pap test clinic near you.

If you need help finding a Pap test clinic, call CervixCheck at 1-855-95-CHECK (1-855-952-4325). CervixCheck partners with over 100 clinics across Manitoba to provide increased access to cervical cancer screening services. Each reports on accessibility options:

  • wheelchair accessibility
  • Hoyer lift access
  • attendant availability to help transfer to the exam table
  • height-adjustable exam table
  • female Pap test provider availability
  • languages spoken by Pap test providers

To find out more about what to expect at a Pap test appointment, click English | French (pdf).

To help prevent cervical cancer:

  1. Get vaccinated against HPV. Click here to read more about the HPV vaccine.
  2. Get a Pap test every 3 years. Women who receive the HPV vaccine still need regular Pap tests because the HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.

The Pap Test

A Pap test is a test that can find abnormal changes on the cervix before they turn into cancer. During a Pap test, cells are taken from your cervix, and sent to a lab for assessment. In most cases, the cells are normal. Sometimes abnormal changes caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) can become cancerous. Regular Pap tests with follow-up with abnormal changes can prevent most cancer of the cervix.

Step 1

You will be asked to undress from the waist down and lie on an exam table with your feet resting in the foot rests. Allow your knees to fall away from each other.

 (c) CancerCare Manitoba

Step 2

A speculum is used to open the vagina and examine the cervix. Breasthe deeply to help calm your muscles. This allows the speculum to be inserted more easily.  You may feel some discomfort, but you should not feel pain. If you feel pain, be sure to let your doctor or nurse know.

 (c) CancerCare Manitoba

Step 3

A small broom-like device is used to collect cells from the cervix.

 (c) CancerCare Manitoba

Step 4

Cells are dropped into a vial and sent to a laboratory to be examined.

The speculum will be removed.

You can get dressed.


  • Regular Pap tests with follow-up for abnormal changes can prevent up to 80% of cervical cancer
  • Abnormal changes can be removed with procedures during colposcopy
  • Detecting cancer at an early stage can result in simpler treatment, more treatment options, and less need for chemotherapy

Potential Harms

  • Discomfort or bleeding from the Pap test or colposcopy
  • Anxiety that may result from abnormal test results
  • Over-diagnosis of abnormal cell changes that would go away on their own
  • Problems with future pregnancies from some treatment during colposcopy


Pap test results are usually available 2-6 weeks after the test. You can find out your result in one of two ways:

  1. Contact the doctor or nurse who did your test, or
  2. Request a copy of your results from CervixCheck.

Although most Pap test results are normal (negative for intraepithelial lesion or malignancy), about one in 10 tests come back as abnormal (cervical dysplasia). Most of the time, abnormal changes will disappear on their own without any treatment.

Follow-Up Testing

If you have an unsatisfactory or abnormal Pap test result you will need either a:

  1. repeat Pap test, or
  2. colposcopy.

Most women who have abnormal Pap test results and who have follow-up test and/or treatment will never get cancer of the cervix. Be sure to keep all appointments after an abnormal Pap test. For more information, see the following resources:

What you need to know about preventing cervical cancer (pdf) English | French

Colposcopy - see video below

Return to your doctor or nurse anytime you have abnormal vaginal bleeding (bleeding after menopause, persistent bleeding between periods or with sex), or abnormal vaginal discharge.


A colposcopy examines the cervix and vagina using a low-powered magnifying instrument known as a colposcope. It is a follow-up test that allows a specially trained gynecologist to get a closer look at your cervix.

To learn more about colposcopy, please review:

  1. What you need to know about preventing cervical cancer (pdf) English | French
  2. Colposcopy videos (below)

If it has been 2-6 weeks since your Pap test, you can request a copy of your Pap test results in 1 of 3 ways:

1. Call CervixCheck toll-free at 1-855-95-CHECK. 
2. Email your request to CervixCheck@cancercare.mb.ca
3. Complete the form below.

All Fields are required

Use your name as written on your Manitoba Health Services Card.



We may need to contact you to clarify information you have provided. Please provide your email and phone number below.

 We will mail you a copy of your Pap test results within 1-2 weeks. The information you provide in this form will only be used to send your Pap test results. If you have questions, please contact your healthcare provider or CervixCheck.

All fields marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory.

The registry is a confidential record of Pap tests and follow-up test results for all Manitobans. The registry contains:

  • your name, address and date of birth,
  • your Personal Health Identification Number (PHIN) and your Manitoba Medical Number (MHSC),
  • the date(s) of your test(s) and results,
  • the name, address and number of the health care provider who did your test(s), and
  • the name of the laboratory where each test was read.
The registry is accessed by:
  • The health care provider who takes your Pap test,
  • The laboratory that reads your Pap test, and
  • CervixCheck staff involved in the registry.

Everyone who has access to your information is bound by the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) and has signed a pledge of confidentiality.

Your personal health information is collected according to a regulation of the Public Health Act. For more information about your rights under the Personal Health Information Act, contact the Privacy Officer for CancerCare Manitoba at (204) 787-2266 or the Manitoba Health Legislative Unit at (204) 788-6612.

 The Registry:
  • keeps a record of all Pap tests and follow-up tests done for you after April 27, 2001,
  • allows you to obtain your own test results,
  • sends your health care provider a letter if you fail to get recommended follow-up testing when an abnormality has been found,
  • sends you a letter if follow-up is outstanding for an abnormal Pap test or if you are overdue for a Pap test,
  • collects information to improve our understanding of cancer of the cervix, and
  • helps us to improve Pap test services across Manitoba.

Keeping records becomes important if you move or change health care providers, or if your health care provider moves or changes laboratories. When looking at test results, medical staff should take your past history into account.

Opting In/Out of Registry

To opt out, indicate this in this form (EnglishFrench pdf) below and return it to CervixCheck. We encourage you to discuss your decision with your health care provider or with CervixCheck. To opt back into the registry, please call our office. Your test results will be available to the registry from the date that you reenter the program.


The HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccines provide protection against certain types of HPV that can cause genital warts, cervical cancer, as well as cancers of the mouth, throat, anus, vulva, vagina and penis. If an HPV vaccine is received before sexual contact, it will be almost 100% effective in preventing infection (see table below). Studies show that females who have already been sexually active may also benefit from receiving the vaccine.

There are three HPV vaccines approved for use in Canada:

  HPV types covered Protects against:
Cervarix 16, 18 Over 70% of cervical cancers
Gardasil 4 6, 11, 16, 18 Over 70% of cervical cancers & 90% of genital warts
Gardasil 9 6, 11, 16, 18,
31, 33, 45, 52, 58

90% of cervical cancers & 90% of genital warts

Females who receive the HPV vaccine still need to have regular Pap tests because the HPV vaccines do not protect against all HPV types that can cause cervical cancer.

It’s important to know that:

  • None of the HPV vaccines can be used to treat existing HPV infections.
  • Regular cervical cancer screening is important because HPV vaccines do not protect us from all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
  • Click to learn more about the HPV vaccine English | French (pdf).

Should You Get the HPV Vaccine? (Dr. Mike Evans)

If you have these symptoms...

Contact your health care provider if you experience any signs or symptoms of cervical cancer and they last for 3 or more months.

Abnormal bleeding:
  • unusually long or heavy periods,
  • bleeding between periods,
  • pain and/or bleeding during or after intercourse
  • bleeding or spotting after menopause
Abnormal pain:
  • persistent pelvic pain that radiates down one or both legs
  • pain during or after intercourse
Abnormal discharge:
  • foul smelling discharge

Pap Test Clinics

To book a Pap test appointment:

  1. contact your regular health care provider, or
  2. enter your postal code in the search box below and click the search icon to find a Pap test clinic near you.

Due to COVID, Pap test clinic access may vary. Call ahead to the site to ensure the clinic will meet your Pap test needs.

For help, call CervixCheck at 1-855-95-CHECK.