Preventive cancer screening quite common

06/09/2011 15:00

Many women in the Netherlands respond to invitations for preventive screening for cervical and breast cancer. One quarter of men aged 40 years or older are screened for the risk of prostate cancer.

Many women screened for cervical and breast cancer

In the female population aged 20 years or older, 58 percent report they have had a smear test for cervical cancer at least once during the past five years; 48 percent of women aged 30 years or older were X-rayed for breast cancer in the past two years.

For many women, the main reason for having themselves tested is an invitation to participate in a population screening programme, but these medical screening programmes are not intended for all ages and sometimes there are other reasons to participate. For approximately one in nine women, for example, a lump in the breast was the reason to subject to further testing.

Participants preventive cancer screening, women, 2010

Participants preventive cancer screening, women, 2010

Vast majority of women respond to invitations for preventive screening

A high proportion (85 percent) of women who have received an invitation to subject to cervical cancer screening have indeed participated. The most common reason (22 percent) to decline participation is that women think the test is unpleasant.

Altogether, 88 percent of women who were invited for breast cancer population screening during the past two years, participated because they were invited. The most common reason (23 percent) not to participate was because they thought screening was unnecessary.

No population screening programme, yet frequently tested for prostate cancer

As yet, there are no population screening programmes for men, but a high proportion in the male population have their blood tested for the risk of prostate cancer. One quarter of men aged 40 years or older indicated to have taken a Prostate-specific Antigen (PSA) test last year.

Approximately two thirds of men took a PSA test precautionary or on account of their age. Nearly three in ten took a PSA test because they suffered from urination disorders or pain in the back.

Blood withdrawal for prostate cancer screening, men, 2010

Blood withdrawal for prostate cancer screening, men, 2010

Jan-Willem Bruggink