Open Access Research article

Anticipating implementation of colorectal cancer screening in The Netherlands: a nation wide survey on endoscopic supply and demand

Sietze T van Turenhout1*, Jochim S Terhaar sive Droste1, Gerrit A Meijer2, Ad A Masclée34 and Chris JJ Mulder14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, VU University Medical Centre, P.O. Box 7057, 1007, MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Pathology, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, The Netherlands

4 Dutch Society of Gastroenterology, Haarlem, The Netherlands

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:46  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-46

Published: 26 January 2012



Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening requires sufficient endoscopic resources. The present study aims to determine the Dutch endoscopic production and manpower for 2009, evaluate trends since 2004, determine additional workload which would be caused by implementation of a CRC screening program, and inventory colonoscopy rates performed in other European countries.


All Dutch endoscopy units (N = 101) were surveyed for manpower and the numbers of endoscopy procedures performed in 2009. Based on calculations in the report issued by the Dutch Health Council, future additional workload caused by faecal immunochemical test (FIT) screening was estimated. The number of colonoscopies performed in Europe was evaluated by a literature search and an email-inquiry.


Compared to 2004, there was a 24% increase in total endoscopies (N = 505,226 in 2009), and a 64% increase in colonoscopies (N = 191,339 in 2009) in The Netherlands. The number of endoscopists had increased by 4.6% (N = 583 in 2009). Five years after stepwise implementation of FIT-based CRC screening, endoscopic capacity needs to be increased an additional 15%. A lack of published data on the number of endoscopies performed in Europe was found. Based on our email-inquiry, the number of colonoscopies per 100,000 inhabitants ranged from 126 to 3,031 in 15 European countries.


Over the last years, endoscopic procedures increased markedly in The Netherlands without a corresponding increase in manpower. A FIT-based CRC screening program requires an estimated additional 15% increase in endoscopic procedures. It is very likely that current colonoscopy density varies widely across European countries.

Endoscopy; Capacity; CRC screening; Colonoscopy; Endoscopist; Supply