Introduction

The strongest evidence that early detection increases the chance of cure comes from randomized trials of screening, but there is also evidence that survival after diagnosis is related to duration of symptoms. This has led to public awareness campaigns to persuade individuals to seek advice regarding suspicious symptoms at an early stage. There is, however, no evidence as yet that this strategy can improve survival.

Screening is the process whereby asymptomatic individuals are tested in order to detect a disease that has yet to declare itself. For this to be effective in a population there are certain criteria that must be met by the disease in question, the screening test, and the screening programme.

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