Show Summary Details
Page of

Medical screening 

Medical screening
Medical screening

Nicholas Wald

, and Malcolm Law

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD MEDICINE ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Medicine Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 25 February 2021

Medical screening is the systematic application of a test or inquiry to identify individuals at sufficient risk of a specific disorder to benefit from further investigation or direct preventive action (these individuals not having sought medical attention on account of symptoms of that disorder). Key to this definition is that the early detection of disease is not an end in itself; bringing forward a diagnosis without altering the prognosis is useless and may be harmful. Before a potential screening test is introduced into practice it must be shown to prevent death or serious disability from the disease to an extent sufficient to justify the human and financial costs. Where a detection rate cannot be directly determined (e.g. in cancer screening, or if the efficacy of the intervention is uncertain), a randomized trial is needed to show that screening and subsequent treatment reduce disease-specific mortality.

Access to the complete content on Oxford Medicine Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.