The International Cancer Screening Network (ICSN) Triennial Meeting this year (2015) will take place starting on the 2nd of June up to the 4th. It will be held at the De Doelen International Congress Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The event is co-sponsored by the United States National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Department of Public Health of Erasmus Medical Center.
What is it About?
The meeting will focus on collaborative research for identifying and fostering efficient and effective ways to control cancer through population-based screening. There will also be specific meeting topics such as individualized screening, optimizing benefits and minimizing harms. Participants will also focus on implementation and lessons learned from organized programs that have been done in middle to high resource countries. It will also cover screening in countries that have limited resources and the experts on various fields will discuss informed decision making in cancer screening.
Cancer screening is checking for cancer or any condition that can later on become cancer in people who still don’t have any symptoms. Screening is important since it can help doctors find and treat certain types of cancer early. Early detection is crucial because in most cases when the abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, treatment may be a lot easier. When the symptoms start to appear, the cancer may have spread to other areas of the body making it a lot more difficult to treat.
There are currently several screening tests that help detect cancer early. This helps reduce the chance that a patient will die from the particular form of cancer. However, it is very important to remember that screening tests also have potential harms and not just benefits.
- There are some screening tests that can lead to bleeding or other health problems.
- In some cases, false-positive results can happen – this means that the test indicates that cancer is present even if it is really not. False-positive test results lead to anxiety and are typically followed by other additional tests and procedures that can cause harm to the patient.
- In some cases, false-negative results can also occur – this means that the test indicates there is no cancer present even though there is. This can lead to false reassurance and cause delays in diagnosis and possibly cause the patient to put off medical care even if symptoms start.
- Overdiagnosis is also possible which happens when a screening test correctly shows that the patient has cancer but it is slow growing and wouldn’t have had any negative effect to the patient in his/her lifetime. Treating such cancers is called overtreatment which can cause a lot of harm to the patient.
It is important for people to discuss the potential harms along with the benefits of different cancer screening tests with their physicians.
The ICSN is a voluntary association composed of different countries that implement population-based cancer screening programs. It was established in the last month of 1988 as the International Breast Cancer Screening Database Project when an international workshop with representatives from 11 countries held. Currently, there are over 30 participating countries addressing cervical, colorectal and other important types of cancer screening.
The ICSN is devoted to collective research that aims to identify and foster efficient and effective ways to control cancer worldwide by implementing population-based screening. It does not cover efficacy or use data from clinical trials. Any country is welcome to join the ICSN as long as they have initiated a population-based screening program for cancer.