Screening for disease is conceptually simple: identify diseases in an early stage increasing the likelihood of cure. However, the trade-offs involved, including false-positive test results and diagnosing clinically unimportant lesions, make the decision to screen complex. Perhaps that is why physicians and patients find it difficult to resolve the trade-offs inherent in screening programs and to find the appropriate place of screening in prevention. Public discussions of these trade-offs in screening for breast, cervical, and prostate cancers have increased awareness of harms and uncertainty about benefits and are informing the decision making about less intensive screening. Now, for lung cancer, it is time to embark on a new discussion of both the trade-offs and the appropriate role of screening when alternate approaches to reducing the societal disease burden are available.
Harris RP. Starting a New Discussion About Screening for Lung Cancer. JAMA. 2015;313(7):717-718. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.14769