Cervical cancer is most common in women between the ages of 30 and 60.
The aim of the screening is the early detection of cervical cancer and the conditions that lead to cervical cancer.
Why population screening for cervical cancer?
Every year about 800 people in the Netherlands get cervical cancer, of which about 200 die. Thanks to the population screening, precancerous stages of cervical cancer can be detected early. Precancerous cervical cancer is usually treatable. Cervical cancer can be prevented by treatment.
When do people receive the invitation?
People who are registered in a Dutch municipality will receive an invitation when you are 30, 35, 40, 50 and 60 years old. It usually takes 10 to 15 years for cervical cancer to develop. As a result, more frequent testing is not necessary. In some cases you will also receive an invitation if you are 45, 55 or 65 years old. For example, if HPV (human papillomavirus) was found during your previous participation, or if you did not respond to your last invitation, In case of complaints, it is very important to go to the doctor. Don't wait for the next invite.
How to participate?
You have a smear taken at the GP or doctor's assistant. You can make an appointment for this yourself at your general practice. Bring your letter of invitation to the appointment. The stickers on the letter are needed for the investigation. Would you rather participate at home? Then request the self-sampling device at Bevolkingsonderzoek Nederland.
• The screening has advantages and disadvantages. The government provides this screening because the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Whether or not to participate is your decision.
• The smear test is first examined in the screening laboratory for the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Only if this virus is present, they will also establish immediately whether the smear test contains abnormal cells.
• If you feel very uncomfortable having a smear test performed by your family doctor and therefore do not want to participate, you can request a self-sampling device from the screening organization. You can use this to extract material from your vagina that is tested in the laboratory for HPV human papillomavirus. If HPV is found, you must have a doctor performing a smear test to assess whether there are abnormal cells.
• If you participate in the screening you can get the result that no HPV was found. No HPV in a smear test gives more certainty that there will be no cervical cancer within 10-15 years.
• If HPV is found in the smear test, but no abnormal cells were found, then you will be invited 12 months later for a check-up smear test in general practice. This is also the case when HPV and mildly abnormal cells are found in the smear test.
• If HPV and abnormal cells are found in a smear test, you will be referred to the gynaecologist for further examination.
Information about the screening can be found in the information materials. Information for professionals can be found in the menu on the left.
Other sources of information
- Factsheet Cervical Cancer Sreening
- National Immunisation Programme
- Documents National Programme Cervical Cancer Screening
- HPV vaccination
- Information in English at Thuisarts.nl about the cervical cancer screening programme
- WHO on cervical cancer
- Newsletter Dutch cervical cancer screening programme Dec. 2021