More than 200,000 women have not had a cervical swab for ten years or more

"A serious situation," said Ameli Tropé, head of the Cervical Cancer Programme.
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Ameli Trope sjekkdeg250.jpg
Ameli Tropé, Chair of
Cervical program

New figures from the Cancer Registry of Norway show that more than 400,000 women in Norway have not followed the recommendations to get checked, and 200,000 have not had a cervical swab for ten years or more.

Roughly estimated, there were 55,000 fewer people than expected who had a cervical swab last year, in the pandemic year of 2020.

Based on what is otherwise known about prevalence in the population, a probable estimate is that 1100 of these 55 000 women have severe cell changes and about 55 may have cancer.

"We are very worried now. The decline is very serious because attendance in Norway is already too low. The #sjekkdeg campaign has been important in enabling us to increase participation in recent years, until the country shut down last year. It is very sad to move back many notches now, says Ameli Tropé, head of the Cervical Cancer Programme at the Cancer Registry.

Ingrid Stenstadvold Ross, 
Secretary General of 
The Norwegian Cancer Society

#sjekkdeg is a campaign that the Norwegian Cancer Society administers, and which has many partners and supporters, including the Cervical Cancer Programme.

Read more about the Norwegian Cancer Society's work to prevent cervical cancer here.

Worldwide, cervical cancer is the third largest cancer affecting women. Thanks to the HPV vaccine and the Norwegian Cervical Cancer Programme, the disease can be prevented and eventually virtually eradicated in this country.

"It is very rare that we can prevent cancer as targeted as cervical cancer. If you take the HPV vaccine and follow the Cervical Screening Programme all the way from the age of 25 to 69, you can in practice avoid becoming seriously ill from cervical cancer, says Ingrid Stenstadvold Ross, Secretary General of the Norwegian Cancer Society.

Before the pandemic, participation in the Cervical Cancer Programme was over 70 per cent, and it was increasing. 


The Cancer Registry of Norway's minimum goal is to increase the coverage rate to 80 per cent, following recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO).

During the pandemic, however, participation has fallen below 70 percent. The decline is most pronounced among women over 40 years of age.

Chart: The graphs show the development in coverage, i.e. the proportion of women in different age groups who have had a cervical swab as recommended. After several years of good development, participation declined markedly in 2020. The decline is particularly pronounced for women over the age of 40, and women over 55 now have by far the lowest participation.

"This is a cancer that develops slowly. If you go to the doctor every time you receive a reminder from the Cervical Screening Programme, the disease will be detected so early that you have a good prognosis. That's why it's deeply disturbing that so many women rarely or never take a cervical swab," says Tropé.

Want a home test

The women who do not have a cervical swab at the doctor must be reached by other means.

After thorough research, the professionals at the Cancer Registry of Norway have high hopes that home tests will increase participation.

"We are above all concerned about those who have not checked themselves for many years, because we know that early detection saves lives. We have recently revealed that nine out of ten women who die of cervical cancer have not followed the cervical screening programme as recommended," says Tropé. 

See more key figures for cervical cancer here

The Cervical Cancer Programme and the Norwegian Cancer Society expect the authorities to find funding as soon as possible for home tests to become part of the Cervical Cancer Programme, because it is a cost-effective way to increase participation.

Read also: Recommends home test in the Cervical Screening Program

- A new study conducted by the Cancer Registry, which the Norwegian Cancer Society has helped fund, shows that offering home tests for HPV virus to those who otherwise do not check themselves, reveals a significant number of precancerous lesions and cancer that would not have been detected by ordinary reminder to take a screening test from a doctor, says Ingrid Stenstadvold Ross, Secretary General of the Norwegian Cancer Society.

Read the Cancer Registry's report with recommendations for home tests

About #sjekkdeg

The #Sjekkdeg campaign and the Cervical Cancer Programme are more important than ever:

•Between 70 and 90 women die of cervical cancer in Norway each year.

•The cervical programme saves lives: 9 out of 10 who die of cervical cancer have failed to get checked or have checked themselves too infrequently.

•The cervical programme also keeps the incidence down: Over 300 women get cervical cancer annually. Without the reminder letter from the Cervical Cancer Program, the number would have been at least 1,000 cases per year.

•The cervical screening programme sends women between the ages of 25 and 69 a reminder when it is time to book an appointment for the test. The program only works if women actually make use of it. And they should do so for the entire period, even the year they are 69.