Public health policy on screening for cancer

Before a screening programme is run as a public health policy there should be evidence from a randomized screening trial that the programme will reduce mortality and improve quality of life in the target population.Other prerequisites, more open to various interpretations, assume that the adverse effects of the programme will be acceptable compared to the benefitthe cost of the programme will be acceptable compared to the cost of health services in the target population.The ever smaller mortality benefits achieved with new screening programmes, when set in proportion to harms caused as regards quality of life and other aspects, bring ever closer the limit where harms become decisive for the applicability of a programme.Only a randomized health services research project set up in the initiation phase of a routine screening will provide certainty on the applicability.In addition, activities that have become routine in the health care system should be continuously assessed and monitored to ensure that the results are in line with the results obtained in the initiation phase.