Weighing benefits and harms
There are many examples of beneficial screening. Perhaps the most widely used in adults is the checking of risk factors for heart disease and stroke that is routinely done in primary care. There is good evidence that high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, and tobacco smoking increase the risk of these diseases, and that identifying, advising, and treating people with such risk factors can prevent heart attacks and strokes.
In this sub-section:
- Phenylketonuria screening: clearly beneficial
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening: proceed with care
- Breast cancer screening: well established but remains contentious
- Prostate cancer screening: clear harms with uncertain benefits
- Lung cancer screening: early but not early enough?
- Genetic tests: sometimes useful, often dodgy.