Time To Abandon Early Detection Cancer Screening

Michael Bretthauer, MD, PhD, President, Frontier Science, Frontier board members Hans-Olov Adami and Mette Kalager, along with their colleagues Unnur Valdimarsdottir and John P.A. Loannidis have published an editorial in the European Society for Clinical Investigation titled “Time to abandon early detection cancer screening.”

European Society for Clinical Investigation

The essay broadly outlines cancer screening history and attitudes since 1971, and differentiates early detection cancer screening versus preventative cancer screening as they relate to benefits and mortality. The authors clearly explain the focus of their essay is early detection screening of already invasive cancer in entire populations, and how early detection cancer screening has led to overdiagnosis, and has not been proven successful in reducing cancer mortality.

The essay notes that “after almost half a century, the war on cancer has not been decisively won. Key advances have occurred mostly for treatment rather than prevention.” The authors submit that the “currently prevailing nudging of the population towards cancer screening tests with little effect and a doubtful benefit-harm balance should be stopped.” Abandoning population-based early detection approaches “will liberate enormous resources that may be devoted to effective cancer prevention programs and other interventions that have strong evidence for improving public health.”

The essay is well cited and is available online at Wiley Online Library.

DOI: 10.1111/eci.13062