Cancer Screening

Authored by: David Cantor

The Routledge History of Disease

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415720014
eBook ISBN: 9781315543420
Adobe ISBN: 9781134857876


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When in 1951 the United States Commission on Chronic Illness defined screening as ‘the presumptive identification of unrecognized disease or defect by the application of tests, examinations, or other procedures which can be applied rapidly’, it sought to promote a relatively new way of detecting disease. 1 Screening, the Commission explained, aimed to sort out apparently well persons who probably had a disease from those who probably did not. It was not a diagnostic test since persons with suspicious findings had to be referred to their physicians for diagnosis and necessary treatment, nor was it yet available for many diseases. The Commission noted that the most commonly used screening tests were blood glucose determination for diabetes, a serological test for syphilis, radiography for chest pathology, and cytology for cancer detection. The last of these referred to the Pap test used to screen for cervical cancer.

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