From the first week of July, every woman turning 30 will receive a self-sampling device with their invitation for cervical cancer screening. Participants can use this device to collect their own vaginal material. This will make it easier to take part in the population screening. Taking part with a smear test at a GP practice will remain possible as well.
Each year, around 900 women get cervical cancer and 200 die from this disease. Without the population screening, that figure would be 500. Cervical cancer is most common among women between 30 and 60 years old. That is why women in this age range receive an invitation for the population screening. Taking part in the population screening is voluntary and free of charge, and can be done using a self-sampling device or a smear test. Both are effective and reliable methods for detecting cervical cancer.
Lowest participation among women aged 30–34
The population screening enables early detection of precancerous stages of cervical cancer. A precancerous stage of cervical cancer can usually be treated effectively. This in turn can prevent cervical cancer. In 2021, 54.8% of invitees took part in the population screening. Participation was lowest among women aged 30–34: 44% of this group took part in 2021, while previous research showed that 91% of them intended to take part. Reasons for not taking part included inconvenience and the discomfort of the smear test.
Making it easier to take part
To make it easier to take part, all women in the Netherlands turning 30 will receive the self-sampling device by post from the first week of July. This will allow them to take part in the population screening at home, at a time that suits them. Invitees between the ages of 35 and 60 who do not respond to the first invitation will automatically receive the self-sampling device after 12 weeks. Taking part in the population screening with a smear test at a GP practice will remain possible as well. If human papillomavirus (HPV) is found with the self-sampling device, the participant will receive an invitation for a smear test at the GP practice. This smear will then be checked for abnormal cells.
HPV vaccination and population screening
Women who have been vaccinated against HPV will also receive an invitation for cervical cancer screening. Research shows that women who have been vaccinated against HPV are up to 87% less likely to develop cervical cancer. Because the vaccination does not offer 100% protection, it is still important to take part in cervical cancer screening.
Launch of BMHK.nl
RIVM and the Centre for Population Screening have jointly launched the platform BMHK.nl. This conveniently provides all information about cervical cancer screening in one place. The aim of this website is to raise awareness and help invitees decide whether or not to take part in the population screening.