Breast cancer screening resumes on Bonaire after COVID-19 hiatus
Women aged 50 to 75 years on Bonaire can participate in the breast cancer screening programme again as of Wednesday, May 26, 2021. This was temporarily halted in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New agreements on follow-up care have been made with all those involved, such as the family doctor and the Fundashon Mariadal hospital on Bonaire and radiologists at the Amsterdam UMC.
Early detection is critical to successful treatment, and often involves less invasive interventions. If breast cancer is found early, there is also a better chance of survival. The Centre for Population Screening (part of RIVM) will also be organizing the population screening for cancer in the Caribbean Netherlands, as mandated by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.
Resuming on May 26, 2021
In October 2019, a coalition of local stakeholders on Bonaire started offering population screening for breast cancer. 341 women were screened over a six-month period. Breast cancer screening stopped in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting on May 26, 2021, women will be invited to participate in the screening program again.
Experienced laboratory technicians at the Fundashon Mariadal hospital take the mammograms (X-rays) for the screening. Two screening radiologists at the Amsterdam UMC read the mammograms. The Dutch Expert Centre for Screening is responsible for their training and the quality of the screening.
Agreements on follow-up care
Clear agreements have been made with the family doctors and the hospital on Bonaire about follow-up care. The family doctor informs the women who were screened about any detected abnormalities. He refers them to the radiology ward or the outpatient clinic for breast cancer (in Dutch: ‘Mammapoli’) at the Fundashon Mariadal hospital for follow-up testing. The appointment takes place within a week. Depending on the results, the Mammapoli will arrange further testing and any treatment that may be needed.
An evaluation of the initial period of the population screening (until March 2020) showed that it is important to develop a communication strategy that considers the target population of Caribbean Netherlands The invitation to participate and the information about the screening program have been updated accordingly. Moreover, the importance of screening and early detection of cancer will be promoted more widely through local media channels and on social media.