Cancer screening is identification of groups of individuals from general population for whom the likelihood of asymptomatic malignant disease is increased. Simple diagnostic tests are used for the screening purpose. A positive result of a screening test yet does not prove the diagnosis of cancer; further diagnostic tests are required to exclude or confirm the diagnosis (cancer or other) in the case of a positive test.
Screening is performed on individuals without symptoms for a particular disease; that is why screening-identified lesions are usually determined in the early stage and successfully treatable. In case there are particular symptoms for the cancer, usually it means that the disease is already in progress and treatment will not always bring to the expected results. In cases the cancer is diagnosed on the late stages it is impossible to get fully treated.
The European Commission is recommending screening for the following types of cancer: mammography for breast cancer, smear for cervical cancer and faecal occult blood test for colorectal cancer screening. Each of these screening types has been proven to be saving lives and being cost-effective. Since January 2009 in Latvia was started cancer screening programms for breast cancer, cervical cancer and colorectal cancer (http://www.vm.gov.lv/index.php?id=587).
Cost-effective screening improvements are prioritized by the European Parliament, including the upcoming European program for research Horizon 2020.