Signals of overdiagnosis

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  • Format Videos
  • Language/s English
  • Target Audience Further education
  • EBM Stage 3 - Appraising evidence
  • Duration 5-15 mins
  • Difficulty Intermediate

Key Concepts addressed


Gilbert Welch’s 8-min video showing how population screening for disease leads to overdiagnosis, illustrating how ‘earlier treatment is not necessarily better treatment’.
The population signals of overdiagnosis are:

  • Rising disease incidence with unchanging mortality
  • Increase in early stage disease with little decrease in late stage disease
  • Substantial increase in small tumours with little decrease in larger tumours.

These patterns are illustrated with data about thyroid cancer, melanoma, kidney cancer, and breast cancer.


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