Is Early Screening Really Helpful Or Misleading In Cancer Care?

You are currently viewing Is Early Screening Really Helpful Or Misleading In Cancer Care?

Early screening procedures are developed to prevent the cancer rates, as if the survival rate may increase, when the cancer is detected prior to the most infected stage. We have different procedures of early screening for different cancers depending on the organ and its location being infected.

In the case of breast cancer, mammography is used for early screening in which a low dose X-rays were used to identify the cancer cells in breast tissue. Early screenings were successful and declined the breast cancer deaths by 70% during 1969 to 2016.

Previously early screenings were also successful in detection of cervical cancer by use of the Pap Smear, a gynaecological screening test since 1940’s. It reduces cervical cancer death rates so dramatically.

Benefits of early screenings

  • We feel normal with normal results
  • We will find cancer before the symptoms in the body
  • We can find cancer before it spreads to other parts
  • Reduces time and cost of the cancer treatment, if cancer persists
  • May helps in better chance of survival

Limitations of early screenings

  • Tests infers cancer, even we don’t have cancer (false positive)
  • Tests may not detect even we have cancer (false negative)
  • Over diagnosis
  • Further testing procedures which are harmful

Early screenings in case of breast cancer

In the case of breast cancer early screenings, reports suggested that 0.1 % of women benefited, whereas 31 % of women were under the risk of over diagnosis. So that we may feel that we might be doing more harm than good. Sometimes it shows false positive results.

False positive results were due to the presence of precancerous lesions in the breast tissue, which are not cancerous and can be removed from the body through our immune system. This false positive leads to mastectomy, chemotherapy and a lifetime of worry.

Chemotherapy may increase the risk of heart failure and future cancer. Chances of damage to the delicate breast tissue may happen with mammograms and its usage of x-rays. False positive results are the most frequent harm in the screening procedures.

Consequences of false positive mammogram results

  • Before going to early screenings of breast cancer, every woman is supposed to know the pros and cons of the procedure. Based on the risks and benefits of the medical procedure, patients can have their own decision to go with screening or not.
  • Patients feel agonising experiences, when they know they are negative, by following the procedures of biopsy after the false positive results in mammogram. It affects women’s lives as they may feel anxious and lost sleep.
  • There may be psychological effects after the procedures of biopsies, in which pain will persist for a long duration due to anaesthesia procedure. It may lead to emotional chaos in women as they are waiting for the results and getting cancer in future.
  • In some cases, there are chances that women were recalled for further testing for false positive results some years later. Again they have to wait for the final result.

Early screenings in case of Prostate cancer

In the case of prostate cancer, FDA approved PSA -based screening in 1986 by using the mechanism of protein prostate-specific antigen (PSA). PSA antigen in blood detects the chances of prostate cancer whereas high levels of PSA protein are present in some normal healthy men.

It might prompt overdiagnosis as certain men who are determined to have prostate cancer might have a risk of cardiovascular failure.

Guidelines for early screenings

The US Preventive services task force (USPSTF) gave explicit rules for early screenings that men who are under 55 or more than seventy ought not be tested for PSA.

USPSTF suggests, 50-74 year old women can undergo mammograms for every two years as they are at average risk of breast cancer. Women who are at 40-49 years old have to consult a doctor or health care provider for early screenings.

People have to be aware of the pros and cons before going with early screenings and they have to take the screenings from an Expert Radiologist to prevent the false positives and over diagnosis.

Early screenings were helpful to the people who are at extreme risk to the specific group of cancers based on age but too much screenings will get more exposure to harmful rays and medical procedures that may have a chance of cancer formation.

Also Read: How Do I Choose A Better Treatment For Cancer?