Overdiagnosis in health care: Impact of cancer screening

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While overtreatment in medical services has for a long time been a topic of interest among the medical community, the concept of overdiagnosis has recently attracted interest because of the increasing scientific evidence supporting it; there are numerous academic papers investigating 'overdiagnosis' which have been published. Overdiagnosis is the phenomenon of a disease being diagnosed that will never progress to the point of causing symptoms or death. In certain individuals, even despite the detection of cancer cells, the person will die of other disease before the cancer can progress. It is known that overdiagnosis occurs in various diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and various psychiatric disorders. In cancer, there exist slow growing cancers in which symptoms and death often occur late and thus the patient will ultimately die of another cause before they are affected by the cancer. Through this, there is a potential of overdiagnosis due to early cancer screening. Overdiagnosed patients are harmed by the diagnosis and treatment which in no way benefit them. The general public as well as health care professionals should be informed of the balance between the benefits and harms. This article will analyze the problems related to overdiagnosis with a focus on early screening in cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-329
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Korean Medical Association
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Korean Medical Association.


  • Breast neoplasms
  • Cancer screening
  • Medical overuse
  • Overdiagnosis
  • Prostate neoplasms
  • Thyroid neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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