Sudbury’s health unit is making efforts to encourage plus-size women to get regular pap tests after learning they are avoiding the potentially life-saving exam.

Genevieve Gibbons, the Canadian Cancer Society’s Screening Saves Lives program co-ordinator in Sudbury, said health workers have been hearing that plus-size women are avoiding regular screening because they're uncomfortable on standard-size exam tables.

She said the Sudbury and District Health Unit picked up on that feedback and are taking steps to make women feel more at ease.

“One of the wonderful public health nurses heard about that barrier, and when they were building the sexual health unit downtown, they made sure they had a larger bed and larger chairs in...the waiting room,” Gibbons said.

Pap tests, or Papanicolaou tests, are used to screen for potentially cancerous or pre-cancerous cells in the cervix. It’s considered one of the most reliable methods for detecting cervical cancer early.

The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 1,450 Canadian women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year alone, and 380 Canadian women will die from it. Many experts advise sexually active women to get pap tests done every one to three years by the time they are 21 years of age.

Gibbons said women in the Sudbury district can make an appointment for a test by calling the health unit.