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August 11, 1951


Author Affiliations

Albany, N. Y.

JAMA. 1951;146(15):1397-1401. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670150031010

The term "detection" has been used in medical literature in a number of ways. It has been taken to mean early clinical diagnosis, diagnosis of disease in apparently well persons, and the application of screening tests for early diagnosis. It is useful to confine the term to the identification of disease which is not causing symptoms or manifest illness. Detection is thus a variety of diagnosis.1 It is to be distinguished from the usual form, clinical diagnosis, since this is the determination of the nature of disease that is already producing symptoms or illness. The two forms of diagnosis may be contrasted by saying that clinical diagnosis is identification of disease for which the patient seeks help; detection is diagnosis of disease of which the person is not aware and thus for which he is not seeking help.

Detection, however, in a very real sense has its oldest and