Majority of MP's signal support for cervical cancer self-test proposal
A proposal to make cervical cancer population screening more accessible by making a self-sampling test available at home garnered the support of a majority in the Tweede Kamer, this week. The proposal from D66 would require spending 3 million euros per year. The MP behind the proposal, Wieke Paulusma, hopes that more women will be screened to determine if they are at risk of developing cervical cancer as a result.
Participation in the cervical cancer population screening has been declining since 2018, with a small uptick after the first year of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, just under 55 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 60 participated in the study, which helps with the early detection of cervical cancer, and at-risk individuals. Paulusma believes the rate of participation is very low. Timely detection helps in better treatment, she says.
A possible reason for the low participation in the population screening is that young women are not as concerned with the chance of becoming ill. Women may also find the Pap smear at the doctor's office painful, Paulusma suspects. The MP hopes to lower the threshold for testing by means of a self-sampling kit or home test. This test can be used to detect the human papilloma virus, HPV, which causes cervical cancer. It can also identify abnormalities in cells.
All women who receive an invitation to participate in the population screening for the first time in 2023 should be sent a home test as standard, D66 believes. This is now only done on request. "We can and should be much more ahead of cervical cancer than we are now," says Paulusma. "That not only reduces a lot of sickness, but also a lot of grief."
The Dutch cancer research foundation, KWF Kankerbestrijding, says it is happy with the decision. "It is expected that participation in the population screening will become more accessible by including the self-sampling test, and that the call will be more heeded," says a spokeswoman for KWF. "We think this is very important, because in general, the earlier you are there, the better the prospects."
The Dutch Health Council previously issued a positive advice on the D66 proposal that Paulusma submitted as part of the Public Health, Welfare and Sport budget talks.
Every year, approximately 950 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. In 2021, 947 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer, D66 has mapped. In that year, 213 women died of cervical cancer. Most women who get cervical cancer are between the ages of 30 and 55.
When women are diagnosed with cervical cancer at an early stage, the survival rate rises to 96 percent.
Reporting by ANP