A consortium led by Cancer Center Amsterdam researcher Prof. Renske Steenbergen will receive more than € 1.1 million from Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) and Dutch Research Council (NWO) to develop innovative ways to improve participation in cervical cancer population screening and detect cancer earlier and more effectively.

Population screening for cervical cancer can prevent up to 92% of deaths, but participation in the Netherlands is poor (50-60%), especially among Dutch women with a migrant background (30-40%).

At-home cervicovaginal self-tests replaced the clinical Pap smears a few years ago in the national screening program, but did not increase participation as expected, due to a lack of trust and low self-efficacy expectations.

Lowering participation barriers

The “4 Women With Women” (4WWW) project aims to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of current screening approaches by lowering participation barriers using innovative technologies, thereby reducing inequalities.

“We are starting with a bottom-up approach. Women with a migrant background from the general population will work with clinicians, communication and behavioral scientists at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), Vrije Universiteit, the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) and University of Twente to further understand participation barriers,” says Prof. Renske Steenbergen.

Meanwhile, Cancer Center Amsterdam and NKI researchers are developing urine-based cervical (pre)cancer detection tests together with corporate partners Novosanis and Self-screen, and University of Twente and companies Demcon and Micronit are developing a highly innovative lab-on-a-chip for early cervical cancer detection. The study will culminate in an acceptance and cost-effectivity study of the developed screening approach.

The power of co-creation

The consortium and study are based on co-creation, a form of collaborative innovation actively involving all stakeholders in the design process. “Through this simultaneously technologically advanced and socially empowering approach, we aim to develop a novel screening strategy that increases screening participation by at least 25% - resulting in significantly earlier detection of cervical cancer and better outcome for patients,” says Prof. Steenbergen.

The societal, healthcare, and technological advances of 4WWW are expected to further boost health-technology developments and contribute to a healthier society and economy.

For more information, contact Prof. Renske Steenbergen

Project Title: For women, with women: increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the cervical cancer screening programme with a participatory technology approach to develop lab-on-a-chip screening with urine (4WWW)

Amount allocated: approximately €1.1 million (in-cash and in-kind contributions: €120,000)

Coordinator on behalf of the consortium: Prof. Renske Steenbergen - Amsterdam UMC - Location VUmc, Cancer Center Amsterdam, Pathology

Dr. Nienke van Trommel - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek
Prof. Hedwig te Molder - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Prof. Loes Segerink - University of Twente
Dr. Maaike Bleeker – Amsterdam UMC
Dr. Marcus Rijken - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek
Dr. Bas de Boer - University of Twente
Prof. Hans Berkhof – Amsterdam UMC

This article was created for Cancer Center Amsterdam.

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