The breast cancer screening program is further delayed by the corona outbreak.
State Secretary Paul Blokhuis (Public Health) is forced to temporarily extend the period between two examinations, from two years to a maximum of three years.
The aim to examine women aged 50 to 75 every two years was already not achieved last year due to staff shortages. It has now taken an average of 2.5 years, reports the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), which advised extending the term.
The preventive examination came to a complete standstill for some time at the beginning of this year, during the first corona wave. It was restarted in June, but due to the corona measures, the capacity is lower than before.
The problems have created major regional differences, according to RIVM, and that is undesirable. By extending the period nationally to once every three years, these differences are reduced. This also creates space to train new employees. “Investments are made in sufficient capacity so that women can be invited again at shorter intervals in the long term.”
About one in seven women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. With the population screening, the disease can be detected at an early stage, so that the chance of successful treatment is as high as possible. Mammograms, X-rays of the breasts, are taken on women who participate. These are assessed by radiologists. If they see abnormalities, further investigation can be done.
The RIVM also announced on Thursday that the population screening revealed breast cancer in more than 6,500 women last year. The health institute sees population screenings, which also exist for cervical cancer and colon cancer, as “well-running programs that yield a lot of health benefits”.