The Science and Technology Committee has warned about the potential risks to patients who undergo cancer screening
Cancer screening can lead to false results and unnecessary treatment, including invasive surgery which could be easily avoided, according to the Science and Technology Committee, the department which exists to ensure that government policy decisions are based on good scientific evidence.
Every year around 11 million patients in England are invited to a form of screening and, while screening can help identify serious diseases, encourage early diagnosis and improve treatment, the committee has warned that there are multiple risks which should be clearly outlined to patients.
An earlier 2012 independent review into breast cancer screening revealed that for every life saved as a result of screening, three women underwent treatment for a cancer that would not have become clinically apparent in their lifetime.
The committee claims that little has been done to improve the standards of screening since the review, and claims that screening can lead to false results, misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment.
The Science and Technology Committee has also raised concerns over the health check programme available to patients over the age of 40, arguing that the so-called MOT is a waste of NHS resources.
National Practice Lead for clinical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors, Linda Millband said: “Screening can play a vital part in supporting early diagnosis of serious illnesses including cancer, however, in some cases screening can have adverse effects, which can lead to invasive and unnecessary treatment.
“It is vital that patients understand the screening process fully and are educated about the possible negative consequences associated with it to enable them to make an informed decision about their healthcare and treatment options.”
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