In Finland, population-based cancer screening has a long tradition, as started in the far 1963 with cervical cancer screening (Cancer Society of Finland/Screening programme, 2011). Over the years, this program has come under the scrutiny, and now serves as a gold standard for evaluation of screening programs" quality and effectiveness. Two other main cancer screenings, for breast and colorectal cancer, are also being carried out in a highly organised manner. The first started in 1987, and the latter in 2004, after the EU Commission set up in 2003 its recommendations for strenghtening the efforts over early detection of colorectal cancer. The Mass Screening Registry provides evaluation of the impact of screening programs on cancer-related mortality and of the quality of the screening programs, and is a complementary to the Finnish Cancer Registry. The Finnish Cancer Registry is currently included in the European trial on prostate cancer screening.
Screening programs are centrally directed by the Cancer Society of Finland, but it does not exclude regional societies to work independently and to adjust programs to different local environments. These regional organisations provide a vast array of services, including counselling units, ambulatory cancer clinics, laboratories and hospices, as well as organisation of rehabilitation and recreational courses. Patient organisations and numerous volunteers, joined as members, provide the popular base to the Societies. The Cancer Society, together with the Cancer Foundation and the Foundation for Cancer Research, as private, non-profit investors, provide the sources of funds aimed at preventing cancer through research, health promotion and mass screenings. The Society also actively participates in creating health policy. In this way, the Cancer Society has become a vast forum for providing a support to comprehensive cancer control, by bringing together scientists, clinicians, decision-makers, financial experts, volunteers and patients, in the common mission of reducing the cancer burden in the population.
Specifically, Finnish smoking prevention and cessation campaigns, are worth meantioning details. Cigarette consumption in Finland was the highest in the world, in the period between two wars; consequently, the lung cancer incidence in men was one of the highest in the world. Due to combined effect of legislative measures, health promotion activities and strict monitoring, smoking decreased drastically over time, and nowadays is among the lowest in Europe.
By acting in this way, Finland has become one of the leading European countries in achieving an efficient cancer control, with the figures decline on cancer mortality and with the five-year survival rates among the best in Europe. Overall, in performing public health activities, Finland experienced a long process of transition, from the prevailing implicit policies, determined by commercial and fiscal interest, to explicit - health-oriented polices. In this context, earlier, the risk behaviour and a disease concern was considered as a medical and individual problem, while nowadays it is primarily considered as a public health, social and political issue.
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