European authorities overlook cancer screening guidelines

August 16, 2001

Letter: European consensus on cancer screening should be applied urgently by health ministers BMJ Volume 323, p 396

European recommendations for cancer screening have yet to be officially validated, despite a consensus agreement by experts from all EU member states back in November 1999, according to a letter in this week's BMJ.

This lack of European policy will lead to a continuation of inefficient opportunistic screening and will increase the risk of uncontrolled new screening methods from commercial lobbying, warn the authors.

The guidelines address screening for cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer and recommend that screening be offered only in organised programmes with quality assurance at all levels, as well as good information about benefits and risks. They also advise that opportunistic screening activities should be discouraged as they may not achieve the potential benefits but result in negative side effects.

This issue needs to be high on the agenda of one of the next meetings of European health ministers, conclude the authors.
-end-


BMJ

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