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Patients with cancer are undergoing unnecessary screening tests for colorectal and breast cancer: study

Nov 5, 2018

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Patients with cancer that has already spread are being screened for new cancers despite little benefit to the patient, according to new research by ICES and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

The study published today in CMAJ Open found that nearly one in 20 patients underwent tests for colorectal cancer and nearly one in 11 women underwent screening for breast cancer, within a year of receiving their diagnosis of metastatic cancer.

“Cancer screening is important in order to improve outcomes for patients. But the aim of screening is to detect disease early when treatment may improve the patient’s health. Our findings show that for patients with metastatic colorectal, lung, breast or prostate cancer, the benefit of cancer screening is limited,” says Dr. Simron Singh, author on the study and Medical Oncologist at the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and adjunct scientist at ICES.

Learn more about this study.

Read a Q and A with the researchers.