Dutch participate most in colorectal cancer screenings
The turnout for colon cancer screening is higher in the Netherlands than in any other European country. This is evident from a study into colorectal cancer screening in 21 European countries, Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organisation (IKNL) said.
European countries take different approaches to colorectal cancer screening. The research, to which IKNL contributed, mapped out the changes in incidence and mortality linked to the different screening methods.
All Netherlands residents between the ages of 55 and 75 are invited every two years to participate in the screening. Participants send in a stool sample, after which a test is performed to find out whether traces of blood are present in the stool. If that is the case, people are then invited for a colonoscopy procedure.
Colon cancer develops from polyps and it can take up to 10 to 15 years for these clumps of cells to develop into colon cancer. Polyps can be easily removed during the colonoscopy, subsequently reducing the risk of cancer.
The turnout in the Netherlands is considerably higher than in countries that use similar screening programs such as Belgium and Denmark, the research found.
Due to the slow development of the polyps, the total effects on mortality can only be accurately estimated when a population screening has been running for a longer time. In the Netherlands, population monitoring was launched in phases in 2014 with everyone within the screening age being invited in 2019 only.
The impact of screening on the death rates in the Netherlands is therefore difficult to compare to that of other countries. "It is, however, optimistic that countries in which screening has been going on for some time mark a clear decrease in mortality," one of the researchers concluded.