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What are sensitivity and specificity?

Marc B. Garnick, MD
Hematology & Oncology
When describing clinical tests, doctors and researchers often use the terms sensitivity and specificity. These are statistical measures of how well the test performs. Sensitivity reflects the percentage of time the test results are positive  in people who actually have the disease or condition. Specificity reflects the percentage of time the test results are negative  in those who do not have the disease or condition.

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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.