Nearly 600,000 people in the U.S. will die of cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society. One way to reduce cancer-related deaths is by implementing better cancer screening for early detection. Yet controversy and confusion remains over exactly who should be screened for different cancers, at what ages, and how often.
The American College of Physicians (ACP) released a report published in May 2015 in the Annals of Internal Medicine offering advice to physicians on when average-risk patients should be screened for five common cancers: breast, cervical, colorectal, ovarian, and prostate.
"ACP wants smarter screening by informing people about the benefits and harms of screening and encouraging them to get screened at the right time, at the right interval, with the right test," Dr. Wayne J. Riley, president of ACP, said in a statement. "Many people have a lack of understanding about the trade-offs of screening. Study after study has consistently shown that patients and many physicians overestimate the benefits and are unaware of and/or downplay the potential harms of cancer screening."
The group reviewed clinical guidelines issued by several organizations, including the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Cancer Society, among others, with the goal of developing comprehensive advice on how to maximize the benefits of cancer screening while reducing unnecessary testing.