Cervical cancer screening
09. 09. 2019 | Institute of Biostatistics and Analyses at the Faculty of Medicine of the Masaryk University
Screening is a strategy used in a population to detect a disease in individuals without signs or symptoms of that disease. The intention of screening is to identify disease in a community early, thus enabling earlier intervention and management in the hope to reduce morbidity and mortality from a disease.
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However, not all cancer types are suitable for screening; a “suitable” cancer type should meet the following criteria:
- morbidity of this cancer type is relatively high,
- an effective treatment for early stages of this cancer type is available,
- an affordable test exists for the detection of this cancer type.
Main benefits of screening tests involve significant improvements in disease prognosis, together with the prospect of less radical (mostly also less expensive) treatment which, in fact, is usually much more effective. The following screening programmes have proved to be highly effective:
Cervical cancer screening consists in regular gynaecological examinations aimed to reveal any precancerous changes in the cervix or early stages of cervical cancer. Abnormal changes in cervix mostly do not cause any symptoms or health problems, and women are at high risk if they don’t have regular checkups. Regular monitoring of cervical changes is therefore a very effective way of cervical cancer prevention. Apart from that, cancer detected at an early stage can be cured much more easily and effectively, leading to a better quality of patient’s life.
Cervical cancer screening in the Czech Republic
In January 2008, the Czech Ministry of Health (MZCR) launched the nationwide screening programme focused on the early detection of cervical cancer, thus adding another programme of cancer prevention to the nationwide breast cancer screening, which started in 2002. Regular gynaecological examinations are widely accessible to all women, protecting them from specific types of cancer. The objective of this screening programme is to ensure that cytological samples collected by gynaecologists will be examined in accredited laboratories, which meet the criteria of modern diagnostic methods.
From the legislative point of view, the project is enshrined in the Decree no. 70/2012 Coll. of MZCR, stipulating the content and intervals of preventive examinations. Specifically, the criteria and conditions for cervical cancer screening in the Czech Republic are defined by the Czech Ministry of Health Gazette No. 07/2007.
The Cervical Cancer Screening Programme in the Czech Republic follows the Council Recommendation of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening, stating that all EU members should adopt organised screening programmes for breast cancer, cervical cancer and colorectal cancer. The Council of the European Union recommends the collection of data on preventive examination, subsequent diagnostic procedures and final diagnoses. These data should be used to monitor the screening process and the results should be made available to the public and to health professionals. A detailed recommendation for the implementation of cancer screening programmes in individual EU members is provided in the European guidelines for quality assurance in cervical cancer screening ( PDF file, 9.0 MB). Data collection from cervical cancer screening in the Czech Republic complies with the recommendation of the Council of the European Union, making it possible to monitor the screening programme in a way compatible with the European Guidelines.
The Cervical Cancer Screening Programme is currently ensured by several dozen accredited cytology laboratories whose functioning is monitored and checked according to transparent rules. The programme course, adherence to the stipulated rules, as well as research activities linked to the project are overseen by the Cervical Cancer Screening Committee at the Ministry of Health.
Accredited cytology laboratories
The Cervical Cancer Screening Programme is currently ensured by several dozen accredited laboratories whose functioning is monitored and checked according to transparent rules. An accredited laboratory must meet the strict “Criteria and Conditions for the Cervical Cancer Screening Programme in the Czech Republic”, as stipulated in the Czech Ministry of Health Gazette No. 07/2007.