The Difference between Cancer Screening and Diagnostics

During this COVID-19 outbreak, both patients and doctors are faced with challenging decisions regarding cancer screening and diagnosis. They have to decide whether to reschedule the procedures for the patients and how this will impact their well-being.

The pandemic continues to strain health care and hospital resources to treat those infected. Doctors may be compelled to reschedule screening or diagnostic procedures for cancer and also limit non-essential procedures and delay chemotherapy to prevent exposure. Screening and diagnostic appointments may be rescheduled, depending on the type of procedure.

An early cancer diagnosis is very important and will help determine the treatment outcome for a patient. When cancer is diagnosed early, the chances of getting appropriate treatment and cure are very high.

The Difference

Cancer screening is carried out as a regular check for cancer. The patient may not have visible signs and symptoms of the disease. Some of the standard screening procedures include annual mammograms, pelvic exams, chest X-rays, colonoscopies, digital rectal exams, and more.

A doctor may recommend screening for patients with certain risk factors such as personal or family history. Screening helps to determine if a patient has a malignancy.

A diagnostic procedure looks for cancer when a patient experiences signs and symptoms. Some of the symptoms of cancer include bleeding, pain, and a lump, among other suspicious symptoms that may indicate the presence of cancer. A diagnostic is conducted after a screening procedure as a follow-up test to identify cancer.

A diagnostic is performed by getting a sample to be tested in a lab. Diagnostic tests performed in cancer include blood tests and imaging procedures, which can also be used for screening purposes.

While diagnostics are time-sensitive, screening procedures can be delayed or rescheduled. In most cases, a delay in screening may not be a cause for concern, especially if the patient has no signs and symptoms for cancer.

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