Facts about the screening:

Facts about the screening (figures based on the year 2010)

Target population

Women aged 50 - 75 years

Invitation every 2 years

1.3 million women

Attendance rate

78,8% (participation N=995.740)

Detection rate per 1000


Referral  rate per 1.000 women screened


Positive predictive value (pvv) recall


Risk reduction in mortality

50% (in case of regular participation)

Lives saved per year


False positive results per 1000 women


Total costs

€65 million per year

Costs per examination


Since the introduction of the Breast Cancer Screening Programme in the Netherlands, mortality associated with the disease has decreased by 41%. The decline in mortality is attributable partly to screening-based early detection and treatment, and partly to improved treatment methods.

The following factors contribute to the success of the screening programme in the Netherlands:

  • Favorable geography NL
  • National management by Centre for Population Screening
  • National independent reference centre (the LRCB)
  • National independent evaluator (the NETB)
  • Invitation according to postal regional code
  • Mobile units in communities
  • Organized separate from health care (women are not (yet) patients but clients)
  • Dutch system is a system of balancing of interests: public and private
  • National advisory committees, consisting of the involved public and private organisations, advise the Centre for Population Screening on a regular basis

Advantages and disadvantages of the programme

The Health Council of the Netherlands is an independent scientific advisory board that provides scientific advice on the benefits of the Breast Cancer Screening Programme for the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports. In June 2012, the Minister has asked the Health Council to update the recommendation on the Breast Cancer Screening Programme. Early 2014, the Health Council presented its recommendation regarding the effectiveness and the balance between the advantages and disadvantages of the Breast Cancer Screening Programme in the Netherlands.

In general, the pros and cons of the programme are considered:

Advantages of the program

  • Health gain
  • Risk reduction
  • Less invasive treatment due to early detection
  • More treatment options due to early detection
  • Reassurance

Disadvantages of the program

  • False-positive results
  • False-negative results
  • Overdiagnosis and overtreatment
  • No guarantees; the programme fails to detect 3 in 10 cases of breast cancer.
  • Radiation / tests in healthy people
  • Mammography is a painful method