Until that time, the screening consisted of the cytological evaluation of a smear test taken at the GP practice. From that moment onwards, the target group of people aged 30 to 60 received an invitation to have a pap smear taken at the GP practice every five years. The collected cells were evaluated microscopically for cellular abnormalities (cytological evaluation) in a laboratory. Depending on the result, follow-up testing took place after six months or after referral to a gynaecologist.
2017: Primary HPV screening
In 2017, the screening programme changed. The main changes were the introduction of primary HPV screening followed by a cytological evaluation in the event of a positive HPV result and the introduction of the self-sampling kit. In addition, a change was made to the algorithm for referral.
As a result of this innovation, a number of outcomes of the screening have changed. The number of detected cancer precursors has risen by more than a quarter. In addition, the number of referrals has more than doubled. Another (unintended) side effect has been the drop-off in the participation rate from around 65% to around 56%. It appears that a large part of the target group intends to take part, but ultimately does not.