09:41pm Wednesday 16 August 2017

Public want to know about benefits and harms of cancer screening

Screening can detect the early signs of breast cancer and reduce the chances of dying early from the disease. However, for some people breast cancer screening could lead to treatment for a slow growing cancer that would never have caused problems or shortened life.

An online poll, carried out by the Informed Choice about Cancer Screening team at King’s Health Partners Integrated Cancer Centre, as part of their review into the information provided to people invited to have care screening, has found that:

  • 85% of people wanted to receive a recommendation from the NHS when they are invited for cancer screening
  • 88% of people thought it should be up to them to make a decision about whether to have screening
  • 94% of people wanted to understand the benefits and the harms of cancer screening before making a decision about whether to go for screening
  • 88% of people thought it would be useful to have a doctor or nurse or other health professional, or a telephone helpline, talking you through making a choice about cancer screening

Professor Amanda Ramirez, from King’s College London is Director of the Informed Choice about Cancer Screening team at King’s Health Partners Integrated Cancer Centre. She said:

‘People are very clear about wanting to see the whole picture on screening – they want both the benefits and the harms to be explained to them.  This is a clear signal to the NHS about the type of information that should be provided when women are invited to have breast cancer screening.’

Notes to editors

About the poll

1085 people responded to the poll which ran from July to September 2012.  Most participants were white (86%), female (80%) and 61% were under 50 years old. Most participants had some experience of cancer; 59% had a relative or close friend with cancer; 25% were health professionals and 17% had had a diagnosis of cancer.  The full results of the poll can be found on the Informed Choice about Cancer Screening website at www.informedchoiceaboutcancerscreening.org 

About the review into informed choice about cancer screening

Following several years debate, in October 2011, Professor Sir Mike Richards, the National Cancer Director announced a review of how best to support patients in making an informed choice about whether to have cancer screening.  It is expected to report in November 2012.  More information about the review is available at http://www.informedchoiceaboutcancerscreening.org/.    

Alongside this, Professor Sir Mike also announced a review of the benefits and harms of breast screening (chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot), which has also excited controversy.  This review will report on Tuesday 30 October. 

Informed Choice about Cancer Screening is an independent team of experts in communicating with the public, led by Professor Amanda Ramirez and Dr Lindsay Forbes from King’s College London and hosted by King’s Health Partners Integrated Cancer Centre.

View the full report.

For further information please contact Emma Reynolds, PR Manager (Health) at King’s College London, on 0207 848 4334


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