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How can I tell if I should be screened for a disease?

In general, when considering a screening test for a particular illness, it is important to take into account your risk factors for that disease -- this will affect the predictive value of the test. If you have risk factors that make you more likely to have the disease, it generally is a good idea to take a screening test for that illness. Further, if the disease is common in your age group, take the test. For example, breast cancer is a relatively common cancer among women but does not usually strike before age 40. In women under 40, the predictive value of breast cancer screening is low. So women under age 40 are not routinely screened for breast cancer -- unless they have other risk factors for the disease.

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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.