Population screening

For the benefit of the public health the Dutch government offers various medical screenings to the population, also called population screenings. These screenings aim to diagnose a disease (at an early stage). There are screenings for different groups of people and for various diseases.

Population screening for cancer
The government offers three population screenings for cancer, namely cervical cancer, breast cancer and bowel cancer. These are diseases for which, either by the often occurrence or by the seriousness of the (advanced) disease, diagnosing and treatment at an early stage gains health.
The population screenings are the same for the entire country and are organized by region. For the region Noord-Holland (North Holland), Bevolkingsonderzoek Midden-West organizes the screenings.
If you are eligible for a screening, you will receive an invitation for this. Participation is not mandatory. You decide whether you want to participate or not.

  • Cervical cancer
    The population screening for cervical cancer is for women in the age group 30 to 60 years. They can have a cervical smear taken every five years.
    If you have received an invitation, you make an appointment with the GP practice assistant. They take the smears in the afternoon hours. Have you lost the form? Then first request a new form yourself from Bevolkingsonderzoek Midden-West (see above); unfortunately we cannot send the smear without this form.
    If having a smear taken is so problematic for you that it is a reason not to participate, you can use a self-sampling kit. With this you can take a smear yourself and send it to the laboratory in the return envelope supplied.
    Deviating results need to have a follow up.
  • Breast cancer
    The population screening for breast cancer is for women in the age group 50 to 75 years. They can have a mammogram made every two years. This is an X-ray of the breasts.
    The screening takes place at a screening center in your area. Usually this is a mobile research center especially for this purpose.
    In case of deviating findings, the participating woman and the general practitioner will be informed. The following steps will then be discussed through an appointment with the general practitioner.
  • Bowel cancer
    The population screening for bowel cancer is for men and women in the age group 55 to 75 years. They receive a stool test every two years.
    You can carry out this test yourself and send it to the laboratory in the return envelope supplied.
    Deviating results need to have a follow up.

The population screenings are free of charge. If it should appear that further research is necessary, you have to check yourself with your health insurer if there are any costs.

More information
More information about the various population screenings can be found on the website of the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment).