Overdiagnosis of cancer in Australia: the role of screening

David M Roder and Elizabeth Buckley
Med J Aust 2020; 212 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50494
Published online: 2 March 2020

The balance between benefits and risks could be improved if effective risk‐based screening protocols were developed

Overdiagnosis can be defined as the proportion of diagnosed cancers that would not otherwise have come to a person's attention during their lifetime.1,2 Overdiagnosis provides no benefit to the patient but can have financial, psychosocial, and health consequences.2 While advances in imaging and other screening and diagnostic technologies can lead to therapeutic benefit, they can also increase overdiagnosis. Because overdiagnosed cancers are generally indistinguishable from potentially lethal cancers, the imperative to treat is equivalent.2

  • David M Roder
  • Elizabeth Buckley

  • Cancer Research Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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