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Understanding Cancer Series

  • Posted: 01/28/2005
  • Reviewed: 09/01/2006

Slide 35

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Importance of Diagnostic Test Specificity (cont.)

The next hurdle is a test's specificity. Specificity answers this question: What percentage of the people who do not have cancer are correctly identified as being free of disease? If a cancer test is not very specific, it will yield many "false positive" results; that is, a person will test positive even though they are cancer free. Such error can lead to unnecessary and costly follow-up procedures and cause anxiety in the person misdiagnosed.

Importance of Diagnostic Test Specificity (cont.)