Cancer Screening in Older Adults

  • Louise C. Walter

This chapter focuses on the special issues that need to be considered when making decisions to screen older persons for cancer. Specifically, while there is substantial evidence that screening for colorectal, breast, and cervical cancer reduces cancer mortality among persons in their 50s and 60s [1–6], few screening trials included persons over age 70. Therefore, clinicians must assess whether to extrapolate results from screening trials to their older patients. To determine the appropriateness of this extrapolation, clinicians need to know whether there are differences in the behavior of cancers in older people that change the benefit of early detection and treatment; whether there are differences in the accuracy of screening tests in older people that make the tests more or less likely to miss cancer; and whether there are differences among older individuals that alter the likelihood of receiving benefit versus harm from cancer screening [7]. The need to individualize cancer screening decisions is especially important for older persons, because individuals become increasingly unique in their particular combination of health, life expectancy, and values with advancing age.


Cervical Cancer Cancer Screening Human Papilloma Virus Fecal Occult Blood Testing Cervical Cancer Screening 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of GeriatricsUniversity of California, San Francisco, and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center 181GSan FranciscoUSA

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