Croatia First EU Country to Conduct Early Screening of Lung Cancer in Whole Country

By 14 January 2020

ZAGREB, January 14, 2020 - Croatia will be the first country in the EU to introduce early screening of lung cancer in the whole country, and all people between 50 and 70 years of age who are active smokers, or who have stopped smoking within the last 15 years, and were consuming at least 30 packs of cigarettes per year, will be included in the national lung cancer early detection programme, soon to commence across Croatia.

The goals of the programme include reducing lung cancer mortality by 20% in the next 5 to 10 years thus saving more than 500 lives annually, achieving a 50% response rate to the screening, and raising the five-year survival rate from 10 to 15%.

The national programme, conducted by the Health Ministry in cooperation with the Croatian Thoracic Association, will be officially presented on Tuesday.

Lung cancer is detected in around 3,000 people annually in Croatia, and the leading cause of the disease is smoking. Research shows that 31.1% of Croatia's population are smokers - 35.3% of men, and 27.1% of women. In 2018, 3,021 people were diagnosed with lung cancer (899 women and 2122 men), and 2,789 people died from it. The prevalence of lung cancer is stagnating in men, and rising in women.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of malignant disease deaths in the world and in Croatia. Despite considerable progress in treatment, in most cases it is still an incurable disease, and one of the main reasons for poor treatment results is the fact that two thirds of patients are diagnosed with lung cancer in the advanced stage, when recovery is no longer possible.

Screenings will be performed on low-dose high-resolution CT scanners (LDCT), which can detect even the slightest change in the lungs.

Health facilities across Croatia, in Zagreb, Osijek, Rijeka, Split, Varaždin, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Slavonski Brod, Virovitica, Pula and Krapinske Toplice, are now equipped with 16 LDCT scanners in total.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.