Colorectal, breast and cervical cancer cause 155,000 deaths each year in middle income countries in Eastern Europe, while there is good evidence that a large proportion could be prevented by organized screening. Although many countries in Eastern Europe have implemented some form of cancer screening, this screening is often non-organized, leading to lack of data and quality assurance systems. Also, coverage is commonly low and minority groups are not reached.
For many years now Topicus supports population based screening for colorectal, breast and cervical cancer in the Netherlands. As a leading Dutch company in screening software we can highly contribute to the EU-TOPIA-EAST project with our knowledge and IT components to improve cancer screening in other countries.
Within the project we include the various countries in the way in which screening is organized in the Netherlands and we conduct an assessment for each country. We use an approach for that that includes organizational as well as application and infrastructure aspects. With our observations and advices countries are able to improve their processes and IT systems.
Recently we visited Slovenia and Montenegro to present our interim results of the analysis of the IT systems in Romania, Georgia and Montenegro. During those visits we learned a lot from the participating countries about their approach, and the way culture influences their choices in organizing screening, by example the way to reach out to people.
In the Netherlands we have a population registry which we can and may use as a basis for inviting participants. Due to different causes in eastern Europe these registries are often not available. Instead of reaching out to participants, those countries have to promote cancer screening so participants will report themselves. An important role in this lies with the general practitioner where in the Netherlands the process is centrally controlled and coordinated and highly automated as well.
Nevertheless, screening processes in other countries also share many characteristics with our Dutch approach. Regardless of the way to reach people, the process always consists of selecting and inviting participants, screening (on location or at home) and possibly referral.
Great respect for the tenacity and commitment of all the persons within Eastern Europe who are involved in the cancer screening programmes of their countries. They often have to deal with limited resources, but little by little progress is being made. We are happy to contribute to that.
So as a Dutch software company with leading software in supporting screening processes we can highly contribute to improve cancer screening in Eastern Europe and other countries. With the aim to reduce inequity in cancer burden, fewer cancer deaths, less over-diagnosed cases, improved quality of life and more cost-effective cancer screening programmes.
That’s the way we make impact and, above all, save lives.