Organising cancer screening

Under the national screening programme, municipalities are tasked with organising cancer screening.

The reform of the social and health system (the Sote ferorm) may transfer responsibility for organising cancer screening to the provinces from the beginning of 2019.

Under the current arrangement, municipalities can implement screening as a separate activity, in conjunction with other municipalities or as a purchase service. Cancer screenings are mainly implemented in Finland as a purchase service.

Tendering for cancer screening and making a purchase contract are demanding procedures requiring detailed knowledge of the contents of the service, as well as screening and competition regulations. The procuring of screenings is not a matter of buying a single service, but a screening chain that is a service process. The quality of each stage of the process must be high and special attention must be paid to the flow of information.


1. Municipalities select a screening implementer, usually by tendering process.

2. The applicant invites the target population each year by personal letter to take part in a screening test. The invitation service can also be ordered from the Mass Screening Registry, which is an easy and reliable solution (link). The number of participants will be increased if a reminder invitation is sent to those who have not participated.

3. Those invited participate in the test.

They receive information about the results of the test by letter. If the tests detect more demanding changes, the subjects will be invited for further tests. Further tests may detect indications of cancer or its precursor, and subjects are either referred for procedures and treatments or notified that no additional action is needed.

4. The information generated during the different stages of the cancer screening chain is sent to the Mass Screening Registry.

5. Using the registry data, the Mass Screening Registry monitors and evaluates the quality of cancer screenings and their impact on mortality, and publishes screening statistics (link to statistics).




Screening monitoring is the responsibility of the Regional State Administrative Agencies (RSAAs). The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) directs the activities of the RSAAs. The National Institute for Health and Welfare monitors and evaluates on-going screening programmes and methods used in cooperation with other actors in the field. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority monitors the safety of radiation use and provides guidelines for radiation protection.

⇒ The Screening Service Guide provides information on screening legislation, screening, tenders and procurement. (Link to pdf: guide)

linkki Lue lisää tietojen toimittamisesta



The municipality can handle screening invitations itself or the invitations work can be outsourced. A screening invitation must be directed to the invitee in person and must be in writing. It is essential to give the screening time and place in the invitation letter, which invitees can be easily change by telephone or online. It is good to have times available even in the evenings and at weekends. For those not participating in screening after the first invitation, a repeat invitation must be sent.

Both cervical cancer and breast cancer screening attendance rates have recently declined. Using flexible appointments and re-invitations, participation in screening can be improved by more than 10%. (link to Anni Virtanen’s doctoral thesis).

(linkki Anni Virtasen väitöskirjaan).


PDF-versiot uusista seulontakutsumalleista (Maija, Maiju, Sanni, Petra ja Milla tekevät, valmistuu graafikolta elo-syyskuussa).


The brochure on cancer screening can also be attached to both the first invitations and re-invitations. The brochure briefly and intelligibly describes the goals, benefits and disadvantages of screening.

PDF-versio uusista seulontaesitteistä (Maija, Maiju, Sanni, Petra ja Milla tekevät, valmistuu graafikolta elo-syyskuussa).

The Mass Screening Registry has a screening invitation service from which information on women to be invited for screening and their contact details can be ordered, extracted from the Population Register Centre.

The use of the invitation service is easy and enables the municipality to ensure that all those invited for screening will surely receive the invitation at the correct address.

More on the invitation service.  link to the Services section.