Personalised invitations of Czech citizens to cancer screening programmes

16. 08. 2019 | Institute of Biostatistics and Analyses of the Masaryk University (IBA MU)

In January 2014, a project of personalised invitations for cancer screening programmes was launched in the Czech Republic. In particular, citizens are invited to participate in colorectal cancer screening (men and women), as well as breast cancer screening and cervical cancer screening (women). Personalised invitations are aimed at citizens who have not participated in cancer screening programmes in the long term, and therefore are at a higher risk of developing cancer. The project is expected to increase participation rates in Czech cancer screening programmes.

Personalised invitations of Czech citizens to cancer screening programmes

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The project of personalised invitations is coordinated by the Czech Ministry of Health, which closely cooperates with health care payers (health insurance companies) and expert medical societies. Health insurance companies invite their clients (persons insured) to cancer prevention programmes, and reimburse all necessary examinations related to cancer screening programmes. Each screening programme, however, is rather specific when it comes to making appointments with medical specialists:

Clinical examination of breasts

Mammography of breasts (women only) will be performed by a breast radiologist after the client brings a request form issued by her GP or gynaecologist.

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Clinical examination of colon and rectum

Endoscopic examination of colon and rectum (men and women) will be performed by an endoscopist after the client brings a request form issued by his/her GP or gynaecologist. Faecal occult blood test (FOBT) is an alternative examination method, and the client will receive it from his/her GP or gynaecologist.

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Clinical examination of cervix

Preventive examination of cervix will be performed as part of a routine gynaecological examination, and the client can make a direct appointment with her attending gynaecologist.

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What are cancer screening programmes based on, and who are they intended for?

Healthy lifestyle is among recommended measures that anyone can adopt in order to decrease his/her risk of developing cancer. However, many cases of cancer develop despite a healthy lifestyle, and it is essential to detect them at earliest stages possible. In general, a malignant tumour diagnosed at an early stage is much more likely to be treated successfully when compared to a cancer diagnosed at an advanced stage. Moreover, three cancer types can be detected so efficiently and safely that preventive screening tests can be offered to citizens: namely, screening for cervical cancer and breast cancer in women, and screening for colorectal cancer in men and women.

Screening programme Target population Screening method
Breast Cancer Screening Programme women aged 45 and over
  • screening mammogram every two years
Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme men and women aged 50 and over
  • aged between 50 to 54 – faecal occult blood test once a year
  • aged 55 and over – faecal occult blood test every two years OR screening colonoscopy every ten years
Cervical Cancer Screening Programme all adult women (invitations sent to those aged 25 and over)
  • cervical smear test once a year as part of a routine gynaecological exam

Why are personalised invitations needed in screening programmes?

Screening programmes have the potential to significantly decrease mortality rates for above-mentioned cancers. However, participation rates of the eligible population in cancer screening programmes need to be high enough in order to fulfil that potential. Information on preventable cancers, as well as on risks and benefits of cancer screening programmes, needs to be disseminated among the general population, and developed countries introduced personalised invitations a long time ago. The Czech Republic has lagged behind in this regard, which is undoubtedly one of the reasons for low participation rates of the Czech population in cancer screening programmes.

Keywords: personalised invitations, breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening, colorectal cancer screening, cancer prevention