Screening against cancer ensures that most lesions are detected at an early stage even before symptoms appear. This allows for less complicated methods of treatment and increases the chances of cure.
Screening tests are done when you have no cancer symptoms; diagnosis is done when pathology is suspected.
When screening is done its benefits must outweigh the risks whether physical or psychological. Screening tests must have evidence that they reduce the chance of dying from cancer. These risks and benefits must be discussed with your health care provider and a clear pathway must be defined should the result be negative or positive.
Screening tests can be through:
- Physical examination and history
- Laboratory tests: body fluids, tissue
- Imaging procedures
- Genetic tests
Screening tests can be directed to different populations dependent on
- Family history of cancer
- Individual history of cancer
Currently screening against the following cancers has been proven to reduce mortality