Cervical cancer is highly preventable, and regular screening has been shown to reduce both incidence and deaths amongst women in Canada. In Ontario, screening rates sit between 60 to 65%, well below the target of 85%. Despite established provincial screening programs, some sub-groups of women have even lower rates of screening. In the province, West and South Asian women, as well as Middle Eastern and North African women, have the lowest rates of screening amongst major ethnic groups, and evidence suggests they may have a higher burden of cervical cancer.
Could self-sampling be an acceptable alternative for some women who are amongst the least likely to be screened for cervical cancer?
HerSwab is a licensed self-sampling device that can be completed at home and mailed into a lab. It detects high-risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), the precursors to cervical cancer.
For this study, we will work with community champions to recruit under- or never-screened women in the GTA. Participants will self-select which of the two groups they are in. One group will use the self-sampling kit and provide feedback through surveys, interviews and focus groups. The second group will not use the device and will provide insights into barriers to screening and self-sampling. All participants will be given information about cervical cancer and routine screening.
If self-sampling seems effective and accepted amongst this group, the results could be used to inform current cervical cancer screening practices and policies in Ontario.
Our hope is to inform the discussion around making self-sampling more available to women facing barriers to being screened,