Health Post about Screening |Reffat Ara Shegufa


Reffat Ara Shegufa

Our dear GiT spouse Reffat Ara Shegufa regularly writes about various health issues. Interesting  informationreflections and tips for internationals.

This time she focuses on screening by your family doctor. In The Netherlands doctors usually are reluctant to screen their patients as a standard. Reasons are, among others, the validity of the outcomes (couldn’t always give 100 % safe predictions) or bad by effects of some screening  procedures.

Reffat reflects on this theme  in an intersting and informative way.

Pls enjoy her post below


When I first started working as a volunteer in SGE, I found lots of complaints against Dutch health system. One of the main complaints was the Dutch screening system against diseases, for example breast cancer or other malignant diseases.

Many expats believe that Dutch system is very reluctant to screening. In our society we all think that screening has lots of advantages. It can detect diseases early; we can treat them and control them. Finally we can live longer by monitoring dangerous diseases.

Unfortunately, the scenario is not as simple as it looks like.  Due to lack of proper communication people do not usually get the real dangerous nature of screening.



Here I will give an overview of the side effects of screening with an example of the most popular screening procedure for women used for the diagnosis of breast cancer.

People think that breast cancer screening will detect the early stages of breast cancer and will reduce the death rate. However, there is no conclusive finding for the reduced death rate in young women due to screening over non-screening patients.

  1. Sometimes it results in over-diagnosis and unnecessary treatment burden for the benign/non harmful conditions. Because sometimes it diagnoses some of the changes inside the body which would never go on to cause invasive breast cancer.
  1. Unnecessary radiation for benign condition may increase the chances of heart diseases in later stages of life.
  1. A patient may be diagnosed to have cancer by screening in 2013 while her neighbor is found to have the same disease in 2015 through the symptoms. Both may die in 2017. People think that the patient diagnosed by screening lived longer than her neighbor. But in reality both of them lived the same duration.
  1. It treats unnecessarily more patients than the number of lives saved.

I am not ignoring the beneficial effects of screening here. I just want to give some real idea about it.

Before going for screening everyone should discuss the pros and cons of the screening procedure. If your doctors do not tell you him/herself, you should ask him/her about the real side effects of this procedure. You should compare the actual pros and cons of it.

I believe, as a patient, you deserve to know the truth and you have all the rights to take your own treatment and screening decisions.

People who are really worried about the relaxed screening system of the Dutch healthcare might find some comfort knowing that the beneficial effects of the screening are now questioned by the researchers.

We should take our decisions very carefully judging if the risk of screening is really worthy of taking. I only mentioned the effects of breast cancer screening here, but it might go for all others screening.

‘Stay healthy, keep smiling’


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