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Research Lines

Evaluation of screening

The demand for and challenges of early detection of diseases is growing rapidly due to technological developments. We aim to quantify the effects of screening for a wide range of diseases to help individuals, clinicians and policymakers make an informed choice about the potential/most optimal implementation of screening and informed (non-) participation.

Screening for diseases is a popular concept. Early detection of disease can considerably improve survival and/or quality of life. However, it can also result in false-positive test results or detection of clinically irrelevant disease, leading to unnecessary interventions. Screening can have a beneficial as well as a harmful impact on health, quality of life, and societal cost. Our research focuses on quantifying these health benefits, unfavourable side-effects, impact on quality of life, and cost consequences of introducing screening programmes, and/or tests for high risk patients.

Our investigations result in recommendations as to whether or not to introduce screening for specific diseases, and on policy decisions to introduce screening in specific ways, also in clinical care and surveillance. We have made major scientific contributions in the areas of:

  1. Designing, running and evaluating large-scale multidisciplinary population-based randomised controlled screening trials to establish the efficacy of screening. Examples include trials for screening on lung (NELSON), 4-IN-THE-LUNG-RUN, breast (MyPeBS) and gastric cancer, and cardiovascular disease (ROBINSCA).
  2. Evaluating existing (inter)national screening programmes. We are the national evaluation unit for the breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening programmes in the Netherlands, and also evaluate programmes in the EU (EU-TOPIA), US and worldwide.
  3. Guiding public health policies on screening using predictions of favourable and unfavourable effects and the cost of screening, based on micro-simulation modelling (CISNET). The United States guidelines for breast, colorectal and lung cancer screening were (in part) based on modelling by our research section.

  • Towards improved screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer throughout Europe (EU-TOPIA): estimating the harms and benefits of existing, and possibly improved, screening programmes in the EU
  • Risks or benefits of screening for cardiovascular disease (ROBINSCA-trial): a large-scale trial (44,000 persons) to investigate the effects of screening with classic risk factors (cholesterol/blood pressure) or with CT calcium scoring only (ERC Advanced Grant)

  • Six projects in collaboration with the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET): establishing well-validated models of the natural history of the following cancer sites: breast, cervical, colorectal, oesophageal, lung and prostate




To staff information
Iris Lansdorp-Vogelaar Professor
Harry de Koning Professor
Carlijn van der Aalst Associate Professor
Inge Driesprong-de Kok Associate Professor
Eveline Heijnsdijk Assistant Professor
Nicolien van Ravesteyn Assistant Professor
Kevin ten Haaf Assistant Professor
Esther Toes-Zoutendijk Assistant Professor