The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Screening
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Screening is a critical aspect of preventive healthcare that aims to identify individuals who may have a specific condition or disease in its early stages when it is most treatable. Screening aims to improve health outcomes, reduce morbidity and mortality, and promote early diagnosis. Nevertheless, screening has pros and cons, and it is important to consider both before deciding whether or not to go through with it.
One of the main advantages of screening is improved health outcomes. Smith et al., 2021, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that screening can help find diseases early and reduce the need for more expensive and invasive treatments. Also, early diagnosis can help stop diseases from spreading to other people and lower the overall number of diseases in a population. Screening programs can also save money compared to how much it costs to treat a disease in its later stages (Winder et al., 2022). Early detection of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and hypertension allows for prompt treatment, preventing further progression and reducing the risk of complications. For example, regular screenings for breast cancer can help find lumps or changes in the breast early, which makes treatment more likely to work. Additionally, routine tests can aid in identifying risk factors for specific disorders, empowering people to adjust their lifestyles to avoid or delay the onset of the condition.
One of the main disadvantages of screening is the potential for overdiagnosis. Overdiagnosis is when a person is diagnosed with a condition that would have never hurt them (Smith et al., 2021). This can lead to surgeries and other medical treatments that are not needed, which can cause long-term health problems and emotional stress. Also, screening tests can give false positive results, which can cause anxiety, lead to more tests, and give people a false sense of security (Winder et al., 2022). Another problem with screening is that the screening test itself could cause harm. Some screening tests, like when a person is exposed to radiation during an imaging test, can be dangerous for the person being screened. Also, the cost of screening tests and the resources needed to do them can make them harder, especially in countries with low or middle incomes (Smith et al., 2021).
In conclusion, screening has benefits and drawbacks that must be considered before determining whether or not to submit to it. Although early disease detection and better health outcomes may result, there is also a risk of overdiagnosis and injury from the screening test. Healthcare providers need to use evidence-based guidelines to determine which individuals are appropriate candidates for screening and weigh the potential benefits and risks for each individual.
Smith, J. R., Winder, T., & Riley, G. (2021). Advantages and Disadvantages of Screening Tests. New England Journal of Medicine, 200(2), 124–131.
Winder, T., Smith, J. R., & Riley, G. (2022). Screening for Disease: An Evidence-Based Approach. Annals of Internal Medicine, 156(3), 200–209.
World Health Organization. (2020). The benefits of early detection and diagnosis. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-cancer-day/wcd-2020-awareness/early-detection-diagnosis