Cancer epidemiology and screening participation among non-western immigrant women in the Nordic countries

There is significant geographical variation in cancer incidence and mortality worldwide. Cervical cancer is a clear example of a global health disparity with about 90% of the disease occurring in low or medium HDI regions. Screening has been shown to reduce mortality from breast and cervical cancer. In the Nordic countries with population-wide screening programs, attendance is suboptimal in women with foreign background. Barriers for screening in these population groups have been examined so far only to a limited extent.

In the Nordic countries, there are national population, cancer and screening registries with high completeness. Thus, the Nordic countries provide a unique data source to follow and monitor cancer incidence, cancer mortality and screening participation in female populations with foreign origin.

This study focuses particularly on women born abroad and women born in the Nordic countries to immigrant parents. In the Nordic countries combined the share of people with foreign background is substantially higher than in Finland alone. Population with foreign background is expected to grow in all the Nordic countries in the near future.

The aim of this research is to estimate cancer incidence, mortality and survival, and to identify possible barriers to cancer screening among women with non-western background in the Nordic countries.

Contact: Nea Malila, Professor, MD, Ph.D. Director of the Finnish Cancer Registry, Cancer Society of Finland, E-mail: