Distinguishing cancer screening from early diagnosis

Early diagnosis requires ensuring rapid patient presentation, diagnosis and treatment as soon as first symptoms appear. It is relevant to all types of cancer.

Screening, on the other hand, is relevant to a subset of cancer types only – namely cervical, colorectal and breast cancers, which together represent 28% of cancer cases in the WHO European Region. In the case of cervical cancer, screening enables cure at a precancerous stage of the disease with minor surgical treatments. This is not the case for breast cancer, or for colorectal cancer screening by fecal occult blood test.