The Finnish organised programme for cervical cancer screening was implemented in the 1960´s. At this time, the Cancer Society of Finland established laboratories and trained personnel for specimen taking and reading the smears.
In Finland, individual municipalities are responsible for organising primary health care. Based on the Governmental Decree on Screening municipalities have to organise cervical cancer screening for women aged 30-60 years every fifth year. Some municipalities start screening at age 25 and screen until age 65. The primary screening test used in the routine programme is the conventional cytology i.e. the Pap-test.
Every year approximately 250.000 women get an invitation letter and almost 200.000 women attend screenin. Annually, over 600 cervical intraepithelial lesions are diagnosed within the screening programme alone. It has been estimated that screening prevents over 200 cervical cancer deaths every year in Finland.
Statistics on screening at the national and regional level can be found at >>
Traditionally, gynaecological screening smears (exfoliative cells) are analysed with conventional cytology , i.e. a processed sample is studied with light microscopy. In 1999 a randomised health service study was launched as part of the service screening programme.