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Why are so few South Asian-Canadian women being screened for cervical cancer?

Toronto, October 29, 2013

By Dr. Aisha Lofters

Dr. Aisha Lofters
Dr. Aisha Lofters, family physician in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and clinician-scientist

In 2011, my research found that immigrant women in Ontario are not screened for cervical cancer as often as native-born Canadians, with the lowest rates being among older, poorer South Asians. Since we know that early detection is key to successfully treating many common cancers, the next logical step was to try to do something to increase screening rates.

Before we could do that, however, we had to understand what the barriers were and figure out the best way to resolve them. Read the Globe and Mail's coverage of this work to learn more about it. I'm happy to say that our research encouraged the Canadian Cancer Society screening program to expand into Peel Region, chosen for its high population of South Asians. It's still in the early days, but the program will rely on community volunteers to act as ambassadors and have conversations with their peers about the importance of screening. You can read more about this study.

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