The use of screening tests to detect cancers early provides better opportunities for patients to obtain more effective treatment with fewer side effects. Patients whose cancers are found early and treated in a timely manner are more likely to survive these cancers than are those whose cancers are not found until symptoms appear.
While there are clear benefits to screening, screening tests also carry risk. Not all screening tests are helpful and most have risks. It is important to know the risks associated with the test and whether it has been shown to improve one’s chances of surviving cancer.
This section describes trends in the use of breast, cervical, and colorectal screening tests, which have been found to detect cancers accurately for specified age groups and can increase chances of survival.