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Challenges to cancer control by screening

Abstract

Population-based screening seems to be a common-sense strategy for controlling cancer, but recent reports have raised controversy concerning the benefits of common screening procedures. Intense efforts to develop and evaluate novel screening technologies are underway; however, effective use of any screening method must take into account any underlying biological considerations. What are these biological issues, and what challenges do clinicians face in screening for common cancers?

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Figure 1: When in the natural history of a cancer will screening be useful?

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank R. Narasimhadevara for her contribution to this review. W.D.F. is a Principal Investigator of the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network. M.N.P. holds the Alexander Goldfarb Research Chair in Medical Oncology at McGill University.

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Correspondence to Michael N. Pollak.

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DATABASES

Cancer.gov

breast cancer

colon cancer

ovarian cancer

prostate cancer

small-cell lung cancer

LocusLink

BRCA1

BRCA2

p53

PSA

FURTHER INFORMATION

McGill Program in Cancer Genetics

McGill Program in Cancer Prevention

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Pollak, M., Foulkes, W. Challenges to cancer control by screening. Nat Rev Cancer 3, 297–303 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrc1042

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