What Are the Goals of Screening Tests?
Key Points for This Section
A screening test that works the way it should and is helpful does the following:
- Finds cancer before symptoms appear.
- Screens for a cancer that is easier to treat and cure when found early.
- Has few false-negative test results and false-positive test results.
- Decreases the chance of dying from cancer.
Screening tests usually do not diagnose cancer. If a screening test result is abnormal, more tests may be done to check for cancer. For example, a screening mammogram may find a lump in the breast. A lump may be cancer or something else. More tests need to be done to find out if the lump is cancer. These are called diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests may include a biopsy, in which cells or tissues are removed so a pathologist can check them under a microscope for signs of cancer.