Elisabeth Manville
Mar 21, 2012

Dutch breast cancer screening program shown effective over two decades

A breast cancer screening program based in the Netherlands that began in 1989 has been successful in contributing to a drop in deaths from the disease, a new study shows. The program included sending 16.6 million personal invitations to 3.6 million women ages of 50-75 between the years 1990 and 2009. Attendance to the screenings rose from 73.5 percent to 81.5 percent over that time period. “Compared with the pre-screening period 1986 to 1988, deaths from breast cancer among women aged 55-79 fell by 31 percent in 2009,” said Jacques Fracheboud, the researcher who reported the findings. “We found there was a significant change in the annual increase in breast cancer deaths: before the screening programme began, deaths were increasing by 0.3 percent a year, but afterwards there was an annual decrease of 1.7 percent.” Additionally, the cost of the program has decreased and the sensitivity of the screenings have increased over the years.