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Population screening for breast cancer

Middle aged women eating a salade in the outside

Early detection to prevent deaths

RIVM manages three population screening programmes for cancer – breast cancer, cervical cancer and since 2014, bowel cancer. These screening programmes have been set up for early detection of cancer in people who do not have symptoms.

Participating in population screening in the Netherlands reduces your chance of dying of breast cancer by 50%. This is the result of 25 years of continuous improvement.

Drs. Mark J.P. Steinbusch | Management Board | Population Screening South Eindhoven

25 years

Since 1990, women in the Netherlands have been screened for breast cancer. All women between the ages of 50 and 75 are invited every two years to participate in breast cancer screening, which is carried out in mobile screening units. In 2015, population screening for breast cancer will have been carried out for 25 years. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the Netherlands. Every year, breast cancer is identified in some 16,000 women and annually some 3,200 women die of the disease. The population screening prevents some 775 deaths annually.

High quality

The screening involves a series of steps carried out by different parties: an invitation to participate in the screening; the breast screening (mammogram); assessment of the mammogram; dispatch of the results; and a referral, where necessary. These steps are closely coordinated to safeguard the quality of the screening. RIVM is the national coordinator, ensuring all elements of the screening process meet the highest standards. RIVM also ensures that the screening is easily accessible and cost effective.

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