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Invited Commentary
October 2018

Accounting for the Harms of Lung Cancer Screening

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public Health, University of Georgia, Athens
  • 2Department of Family Medicine, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC
JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(10):1422-1423. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.3061

Overdiagnosis is an often underappreciated harm of screening. In the context of cancer screening, it refers to the detection of cancers that appear histopathologically to be invasive malignant tumors but grow so slowly that they never would have become clinically evident during a usual lifetime or occur in a person who dies of another cause before the cancer symptoms appear.1,2 The causes of overdiagnosis include more sensitive screening tests, increasing biopsy rates, and lower thresholds for reporting abnormal-appearing cells in biopsy specimens as malignant.3-5

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