HPV and Cervical Screening

Dr. Vyta Senikas
Associate Executive Vice-President
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

Wednesday, March 18, 2009
from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: 220 Laurier Avenue West, Ste. 1400, Ottawa, ON

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) and is implicated in 99 per cent of cervical cancers, the tenth most common cancer in women in Canada. Cervical cancer is known to disproportionately affect Aboriginal women in Canada. In fact, although there is no national data on cervical cancer for First Nations women, regional studies consistently show that First Nations women have higher than average rates of cervical cancer, and higher than average mortality rates.

Regular screening is the best defense against cervical cancer. Cervical screening can detect changes in cells on the cervix that can lead to cancer if not found and treated. Unfortunately, many women find the test physically and emotionally uncomfortable. Studies have shown that First Nations women do not get tested as often or as regularly as non-Aboriginal women.


Dr. Vyta Senikas is a past SOGC Vice-President, and has sat on various committees and the SOGC Council. She is currently the Associate Executive Vice President of SOGC in charge of continuing professional development. She has been a member of SOGC since 1979.

Among her many professional activities, Dr. Senikas has served as president of the general overview of obstetrics-gynaecology in 1991-92, Director of Obstetrics at the Royal Victoria Hospital from 1991 to 1994, Medical Director at the birthing centre of the Royal Victoria Hospital from 1992 to 1994, and Director of the restructuring project for the new obstetrical centre. From 1997 until 2003, she sat as a counsellor for the Canadian Medical Protective Association and has been a member of its executive since 2000.

She served on the executive of the Association des obstétriciens et gynécologues du Québec (AOGQ) from 1991 until 1999 and was president of the AOGQ for the years 1997-1998. Dr. Senikas represented the AOGQ in dealings with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) from 1989-2001. She has also served the ACOG as an External Peer Reviewer in the field of medical training since 1992. She was seconded by the AOGQ to the Federation of Medical Specialists of Quebec in 1994; led the open discussion forum at the 1994 International Federation of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians in Montreal; chaired the AOGQ rate-setting committee in 1995; and served as delegated chair of the AOGQ.

She graduated from McGill University in 1970 with an Honours B.Sc. in Biochemistry and later pursued doctoral studies in medicine and a masters of surgery (MDCM) at McGill University from 1970 to 1974. Dr. Senikas completed her internship and residency in obstetrics/gynaecology at McGill University from 1975 to 1980. She later received a research grant in the field of perinatology from the Hôpital Sainte-Justine (Université de Montréal) in 1979-80.

Dr. Senikas was president of the McGill Association of Interns and Residents from 1977-79, president of the Fédération des internes et résidents du Québec from 1979 to 1980, Assistant Professor at McGill University from 1982 to 1985 and Associate Professor since 1985. She was active in practice at the Royal Victoria and Queen Elizabeth hospitals since 1980, and has worked as an administrator since 1987. Dr. Senikas was a member of the Association des obstétriciens et gynécologues du Québec (AOGQ) Board of Directors from 1987 to 2000.