Cancer Screening Debate

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  • Format Texts
  • Language/s English
  • Target Audience Further education
  • EBM Stage 4 - Decision making
  • Duration <5 mins
  • Difficulty Intermediate

Key Concepts addressed

Details

This blog discusses some of the controversies surrounding cancer screening. It highlights that, during recent years, the screening of patients for preventing cancer (as well as many other diseases) has become widely practiced among health systems, but questions whether this practice is experiencing an unnecessary and problematic ‘hype’. The blog highlights a large study which found that (in the case of colon cancer) there were virtually the same number of deaths in the group that received screening compared with the group that did not receive screening. This begs the question: how helpful is cancer screening in preventing deaths? The blog then flags the issue of over-diagnosis, as one of the main harms of screening interventions (e.g. when an incidental finding is flagged as, and thus unnecessarily treated as, cancer). Potential harms associated with over-diagnosis, include psychological distress, are under-reported in research however. The blog then concludes with several take home messages. In particular, urging caution in the context of screening. The blog author stresses that the harms and benefits associated with screening need to be carefully weighed up before proceeding and clinicians should be honest and clear with patients regarding the uncertainties surrounding screening. Read the blog

Students 4 Best Evidence (S4BE) is a growing network of students from around the world, from school age to university, who are interested in learning more about evidence-based healthcare (EBH).  The network is supported by the UK Cochrane Centre.  In addition to the website, the S4BE has a Facebook group and Twitter feed. For more information, read Selena Ryan-Vigs blog which introduces Students 4 Best Evidence.

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