General Health

What are the barriers to cancer screening uptake?

Overview

The goal of cancer screening is to find cancer before any symptoms emerge. Blood tests, urine tests, DNA tests, other tests, or imaging studies may be required for this. We must balance any risks with the advantages of screening in terms of preventing cancer, detecting it early, and receiving treatment.

Everyone is subject to population or universal screening, often known as mass screening or age-specific screening. Selective screening finds those with known higher cancer risk factors, such as those with a family history of the disease. When it is uncertain if the advantages of screening outweigh the hazards of the screening method itself, as well as any subsequent diagnostic tests and therapies, controversy results.

The effectiveness, safety, and acceptably low rates of false-positive and false-negative outcomes are requirements for screening tests. If indications of cancer are found, more thorough and invasive follow-up tests are carried out to make the diagnosis. Cancer screening can result in earlier detection and cancer prevention. A longer lifespan and higher chances of successful treatment may result from early diagnosis. However, lead-time bias or lengthy-time bias may make it look as though the time to death has increased.

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Biological application

Early cancer detection can be assisted by screening. A thorough cancer screening would not have a higher likelihood of doing more damage than good. In general, cancer screening carries hazards and ought therefore only to be carried out when medically necessary.

The risks associated with various cancer screening treatments vary, but good tests have certain traits in common. If a test finds cancer, the results should also provide treatment alternatives. Good testing includes a patient justification for the test explaining why the patient has a sufficiently high risk of cancer. For the patient to comprehend the context of their results, the testing process includes the health care professional explaining how frequent false-positive results are. If there are several tests available, a screening test should be offered alongside the other options.

Barriers to getting screened

All eligible individuals must attend tests to diagnose cancer early, but underprivileged populations encounter unique obstacles that result in lower attendance rates.

Nearly 25% fewer people with mental problems are likely to show up for cancer screening visits. Women are the least likely to be checked for schizophrenia. However, even those who frequently experience mood disorders like anxiety and depression are less likely to go than the general public. People with mental diseases are believed to die 15 to 20 years earlier than the normal population for a variety of reasons, including decreased attendance rates.

Women in Northern Ireland were found to be less likely than women without mental health issues to participate in breast cancer screenings. Even after accounting for marital status and social disadvantage, the lower attendance rates persisted.

Additionally, minority ethnic groups are less likely to participate in cancer screenings. Women of South Asian descent are the least likely in the UK to go to a breast cancer screening. To identify unique challenges for the various South Asian communities, more research is still required. For instance, a study revealed that British-Pakistani women encountered linguistic and cultural hurdles and were unaware that breast screening is conducted in a setting exclusive to women.

Deprivation can also affect how many patients show up for cancer screenings.

Easy access to the screening improved take-up, according to a UK study. To deliver lung exams to high-risk groups like smokers, mobile screening units stationed in supermarket parking lots, for instance, proved appropriate in Manchester’s poorer neighbourhoods. A quick test determined the degree of airway obstruction in the lungs. Airflow blockage, a symptom of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is a risk factor for lung cancer and other medical disorders, was detected in one-third of the examinations.

References

1.    https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-authorizes-special-controls-direct-consumer-test-reports-three-mutations-brca-breast-cancer

2.    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19433838/

3.    https://www.consumerreports.org/health/pros-and-cons-of-medical-tests-a3200073300/

4.    https://evidence.nihr.ac.uk/alert/breast-screening-poor-mental-health-linked-to-non-attendance/

5.    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32434564/

  
Author

 Yash Batra

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