Cancer screening is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The use of various techniques to screen for different types of cancer is determined by multiple risk factors, such as patients’ age, medical history, and family history of cancer. Patients rely on their physicians to help them weigh the benefits of early cancer detection against the potential harms that could stem from false-positive findings, low levels of radiation exposure from imaging scans, or moderately invasive tests.
To help physicians advise their patients about cancer screening, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center provides screening algorithms for breast, cervical, colorectal, endometrial, liver, lung, ovarian, and skin cancers. These algorithms list the risk factors that define average, intermediate, or increased risk and suggest which screening tests should be done at what age for patients at each risk level.
In addition to the cancer screening algorithms are three risk reduction guides. The first is an algorithm for the use of chemopreventive agents such as tamoxifen, raloxifene, or aromatase inhibitors in patients at high risk for breast cancer. The second offers guidelines for human papillomavirus vaccination according to the patient’s age and sex. The third covers the initial assessment for and prescription of physical activity/exercise programs, as physical activity can reduce the risk of several cancer types.
The screening and risk reduction algorithms were developed by teams of clinicians and researchers at MD Anderson. The algorithms are not a replacement for physicians’ clinical judgment but are intended as tools to help physicians make evidence-based recommendations to their patients.
The cancer screening and risk reduction algorithms are available at http://bit.ly/1WWuQEq.
“Useful Resources” introduces tools for community physicians and other medical professionals available free of charge on MD Anderson’s Web site.
OncoLog, January 2016, Volume 61, Issue 1