How modern-day cancer screening is paving a new Roadmap for the Healthcare Sector? | The Financial Express

How modern-day cancer screening is paving a new Roadmap for the Healthcare Sector?

To minimise excessive false positive results, patients are selected for screening programmes based on their age and risk factors.

AstraZeneca, India-Sweden Healthcare Innovation centre, Lung Cancer, Lung Cancer in India, healthcare news,
The constant increase in the incidence of lung cancer highlighted the need for healthcare organisation around the world to come together, collaborate and innovate the way lung cancer was addressed. (File)

By Dr. Kanury Rao

Cancer incidence and mortality are increasing rapidly in the modern era. It has also become the world’s greatest threat to humans. According to the WHO, more than 20 million new cases of cancer occur each year, with 10 million deaths. The report further estimated that cancer is now the second leading cause of death before the age of 70 in 112 out of 183 countries. The situation in India is equally dire, with the number of cancer patients expected to rise to 29.8 million by 2025, up from around 27 million this year.

Though, the reason behind the proliferation is due to the fact that the majority of cancer deaths occur after being detected and screened too late. And by this point, it becomes difficult to cure it. In contrast, screening cancer in the early stage, when it is still confined, has provided the greatest prognosis. And the emergence of modern-day screening is significantly impacting the outcome and assisting in resolving fundamental limits to cure the malignancy at an early stage prior to the emergence of symptoms.

Modern Cancer Screening: A New Roadmap

Screening aims to recognize individuals who have evidence indicative to the certain type of cancer before symptoms appear. When anomalies are discovered during screening, further testing to establish a precise diagnosis should be performed, as should referral for treatment if cancer is found. Screening programmes should only be implemented only when their effectiveness has been demonstrated and when resources such as specialised equipment and staff are adequate to cover almost all of the target group. In addition, even when screening programmes are in place, early detection programmes are still required to discover cancer diagnoses.

Even when correctly implemented, screening programmes have some negative consequences, such as erroneously positive screening tests that necessitate extra testing and invasive diagnostic procedures. Falsely negative screening test results, and false reassurance can delay diagnosis when symptoms appear. Furthermore, overdiagnosis of preclinical cancers never caused symptoms or posed a serious health threat, resulting in unnecessary treatment that harms the patient.

To minimise excessive false positive results, patients are selected for screening programmes based on their age and risk factors. Screening techniques include the HPV test (including the HPV DNA and mRNA tests) as the preferred modality for cervical cancer screening; and mammography screening for breast cancer for women aged 50 to 69 who live in areas with good or reasonably strong health systems. Thus, to pave the roadmap for the healthcare sector, the screening programmes require quality assurance.

Recommended Modern-Day Screening

Breast Cancer Screening: Breast cancer screening is the medical examination of asymptomatic, apparently healthy women for breast cancer in order to get an early diagnosis. The objective of early detection is to catch cancer when it is still curable. A variety of screening procedures, including clinical and self-exams, mammography, clinical breast exam, breast self-exam, thermography, tissue sample, and magnetic resonance imaging, have been used. But, mammography is the most regularly used procedure for screening breast cancer in women aged 50 and over.

Cervical Cancer Screening: Cervical screening using the Pap test or other techniques is very efficient at identifying and preventing cervical cancer. While there is a risk of overtreatment in young women under the age of 20, who are prone to have numerous abnormal cells that resolve spontaneously. And, around the world, there is a wide variety in the suggested age for starting screening. For the screening of cervical cancer, the age of the patient should be between 20 and 30 years but preferably not before age 25 or 30, depending on the disease burden in the population and available resources.

Prostate Cancer Screening: Prostate cancer screening is a procedure designed to discover undetected prostate cancer in men who have no symptoms. Early discovery of aberrant prostate tissue or cancer may make it simpler to treat and cure, it is unknown whether early detection improves mortality rates. However, follow-up operations can occasionally result in adverse effects such as bleeding and infection. With the emergence of modern technology, particularly enhanced screening utilising blood tests, the fear has rendered obsolete.

Final Takeaway!

In a nutshell, the growing number of cancer cases globally necessitates the development of new and more efficient cancer-prevention strategies. Thus, the rise of modern-day screening is paving the way for efficient medicines that work best in the early stages of illness. For instance, breast and colon cancer are curable if diagnosed early. That is why cancer screening, such as mammography, has become so vital in the treatment of cancer.

(The author is a Co-founder and CSO, PredOmix. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the

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First published on: 31-01-2023 at 09:00 IST