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When should I be screened for a specific disease?

In general, screening is a good thing when:
  • The disease being screened for is a significant health problem; that is, it causes substantial illness and death.
  • The disease has a phase before it causes problems during which it can be detected.
  • Detection at this point allows for effective treatment that improves long-term outcomes.
  • The natural history of the disease is understood -- that is, its progress without treatment is predictable and leads to serious disease unless detected and treated early.
  • The screening test is safe and effective, with high sensitivity and specificity. This means that it identifies most of those with disease and can rule out the disease in those who do not have it.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.