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Why is the impact of Cervical Cancer important to people in alberta?

Cervical cancer is the 13th most common cancer among women in Alberta.1 About 185 women were diagnosed in 2015.2

Cervical Cancer and HPV:

Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common sexually transmitted infection.

  • Approximately 70% of Albertans will have an HPV infection in their lifetime.5 The HPV vaccine Gardasil®9 protects against nine of the most common and harmful types of HPV. By making the decision to use condoms, you can reduce your chance of getting any type of HPV infection. Keep in mind that the virus may be on skin that isn’t covered by a condom, so HPV could still be passed on, even if condoms are used.3


Getting Pap tests regularly is the best way to find cell changes early.

  • Finding them early means they can be treated, if necessary – before they turn into cancer. To learn more about cervical cancer screening in Alberta, visit Screening for Life.

HPV Vaccine:


The HPV vaccine Gardasil®9 protects against nine types of HPV, including two types (HPV16 and HPV18) that cause about 70% of all cervical cancers.4

  • The vaccine works best when given before sexual activity begins, before any exposure to HPV. The Alberta school-based immunization program offers the HPV vaccine free of charge to girls and boys. Young women and men may benefit from the HPV vaccine even if they have been sexually active. The vaccine may protect them from HPV types that they haven’t been exposed to yet. Visit our HPV vaccination page for details.

What can I do?

Experts agree that almost all cases of cervical cancer in Alberta could be prevented through a combination of HPV vaccination, safer sexual practices, and regular screening.2 Here’s how:

  • Talk to your health care provider about the HPV vaccine and whether it’s right for you.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners you have because each new partner increases your risk of getting HPV.
  • Condoms lower the risk of HPV. But, condoms can only protect areas of skin where the condom comes between each person. The virus may still pass when skin touches skin not covered by the condom.
  • Choose not to have sex (i.e. any skin-to-skin contact in the genital area).
  • Understand that sexual activity at a young age increases your risk of being infected with HPV.
  • If you have ever been sexually active, you should have Pap tests regularly, starting at age 25, or 3 years after becoming sexually active, whichever is later.
  • Even if you have had the HPV vaccine, get a Pap test regularly. The vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
  • Don’t smoke, and limit second-hand smoke exposure. Tobacco smoking is linked to about 26% of new cervical cancer cases in Alberta.6

More information on cervical cancer symptoms, diagnosis and treatment at MyHealth Alberta.

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