The Dutch health council Gezondheidsraad is recommending that women who are called up for the five-yearly cervical cancer smear check be sent a self test at the same time.
The self test, which checks for the human papillomavirus, has been offered as an option to women who don’t want to have the test at their family doctors since 2017.
The health council now says the self test should be given the same status as one carried out by a doctor. ‘By reducing the threshold to participate in the population screening… more cases of cervical cancer will be detected early,’ the council says.
The council is also recommending changes in the way the tests are assessed in laboratories – which is currently done by hand. However, an initial computer selection could speed up this process, the council says.
Women in the Netherlands are first called up for a test when they are 30, then again at 35, 40, 50 and 60 – if they have no abnormal cells.
Every year, some 200 women in the Netherlands die from cervical cancer.
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