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What is breast cancer screening?

Screening is a strategy used in a population to detect a disease in individuals without signs or symptoms of that disease. The intention of screening is to identify disease in a community early, thus enabling earlier intervention and management in the hope to reduce morbidity and mortality from a disease. However, not all cancer types are suitable for screening; a “suitable” cancer type should meet the following criteria:

  • morbidity of this cancer type is relatively high,
  • an effective treatment for early stages of this cancer type is available,
  • an affordable test exists for the detection of this cancer type.

Main benefits of screening tests involve significant improvements in disease prognosis, together with the prospect of less radical (mostly also less expensive) treatment which, in fact, is usually much more effective. The following screening programmes have proved to be highly effective:

  1. cervical cancer screening,
  2. breast cancer screening,
  3. colorectal cancer screening.

Breast cancer screening consists in regular mammography examinations of asymptomatic women in order to detect a possible malignant tumour of breast at a very early stage. Cancer detected at an early stage can be cured much more easily and effectively, leading to a better quality of patient’s life.

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Last updated on 14 November 2014