In their new blueprint for cancer screening, senior author Robert A. Smith, PhD, and colleagues from the ACS highlighted several key areas on which research should focus:
- Improving the implementation of cancer screening. Research should aim to facilitate the uptake of screening, particularly for populations that are less likely to undergo screening, Smith and colleagues noted.
- Improving the quality and performance of existing screening exams. More financial resources are needed to support the development of cancer-screening technology and quality assurance programs.
- Developing strategies for new ways to screen for cancer. There is also a need for new, better-performing, more-affordable, and more culturally acceptable screening tests. Contrast-enhanced MRI and molecular breast imaging have shown promise in screening for breast cancer, for example.
- Refining risk-based screening strategies. Eligibility criteria for cancer screening frequently vary among different organizations and need to be refined. Exploring methods for identifying individuals at or below average risk of cancer may someday improve screening.
- Developing ways to screen for cancers in need of screening tests. Currently, there is no reliable risk-based screening exam for pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, and bladder cancer, among others.
"The capacity to screen for asymptomatic cancer and cancer precursors defines one of the great successes in the history of cancer control, but the full potential of cancer screening is not being achieved," Smith said in a statement. "Millions of individuals who should be screened are not being screened, and millions who are being screened are not receiving the highest-quality testing available."
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