The value of screening trials

by Emmett B. Keeler

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Screening trials provide information on cancer treatment which is otherwise practically impossible to obtain. Such trials are inherently expensive because of the size, but are easily justified economically by the solid information they produce. If screening proves to be efficacious, much of the expense goes into improved medical care for the participants. If screening does not improve health, then the evidence from the trial can have an impact on costs that far outweighs its expense. For example, evidence from the HIP screening trial is primarily responsible for recent NCI guidelines limiting mammograms in young women. The resultant savings in a single year are greater than the total costs of the study.

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