Afbeelding screening 1 en
Afbeelding screening

The Belgian Cancer Registry (BCR)’s screening team plays an important supporting role in the organisation, follow-up and evaluation of population screening for breast, colorectal and cervical cancer organised by region. 

BCR can only fulfil this statutory mission in close cooperation with the regional authorities and screening organisations in each region:

o    Government: Vlaams Agentschap Zorg en Gezondheid (VAZG) (Flemish Agency for Care and Health)
o    Screening organisation: Centrum voor Kankeropsporing (CvKO) (Flemish Centre for Cancer Screening)

o    Government: Gemeenschappelijke Gemeenschapscommissie van Brussel-Hoofdstad (GGC) (Common Community Commission)
o    Screening organisation: Bruprev

o    Government: Agence pour une Vie de Qualité (AViQ) (Quality of Life Agency)
o    Screening organisation: Centre de Coordination et de Référence pour le dépistage des cancers (CCRef) (Community Coordination and Reference Centre for Cancer Screening)

What exactly does population screening do?

Population screening attempts to detect undiagnosed cancers or their precursors in apparently healthy people who are not experiencing any symptoms or complaints. Unlike early detection in people with symptoms, population screening targets everyone within a certain target group. It is expected that no cancer or its precursors will be detected in the majority of people who are screened. 

The core tasks of the BCR screening team

The BCR screening team staff support the regional screening organisations in the organisation and quality evaluation of ongoing population screening programmes. Specifically, they perform the following tasks:

-    Preparing exclusion lists
Lists of people who are (temporarily) ineligible for population screening are drawn up several times a year, based on the cancer diagnosis registration data and screening data collected by BCR. Screening organisations use these exclusion lists to better define the target population eligible for screening and thus avoid unnecessary invitations for screening tests.

-    Following up after an abnormal screening test
People who have been screened and whose screening test result was abnormal must undergo follow-up testing that provides a definitive answer as to whether or not a particular tumour is present. Through a data link with the Agence InterMutualiste (AIM) (the agency responsible for collating data from Belgium’s seven health insurance funds), BCR can track the extent to which these follow-up tests actually take place and their final outcomes. 

-    Creating fail-safe lists 
Follow-up testing after an abnormal screening test is essential in the design of cancer screening. Using registration data, BCR compiles an annual fail-safe list of people whose follow-up screening data are still missing. Based on this, the regional screening organisations can remind both those affected and their doctors of the follow-up advice. 

-    Calculating quality indicators
BCR annually calculates a large number of parameters in order to monitor and, if necessary, adjust the overall quality of population screening according to European cancer screening guidelines. Many of these quality indicators can be found in the various regional annual reports and include aspects of participation, screening test use in the target population, the results obtained and their use (including cancer detection rate, sensitivity and specificity), and the results of further follow-ups.

-    Analysing screening-detected cancers and interval cancers
To evaluate ongoing screening for breast, colorectal and cervical cancer, BCR annually calculates the number of cancer diagnoses made thanks to the screening programme. It also calculates the number of interval cancers, which are cancers detected after a non-prevalent (‘negative’) screening test and before the next screening appointment. 

-    Conducting specific research projects related to screening  
The cyto-histopathology registries provide a wealth of data for all kinds of research projects. Using the action buttons below, you can click through to the various projects by organ or find the resulting publications.