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Revista Cubana de Salud Pública

versión impresa ISSN 0864-3466versión On-line ISSN 1561-3127


LENCE ANTA, Juan J. Ethical repercussion of massive screening programs for cancer control. Rev Cubana Salud Pública [online]. 2007, vol.33, n.1. ISSN 0864-3466.

Massive screening programs for cancer control imply biological, psychological and social risks. The present paper was aimed at making reflections on some current ethical aspects associated to the implementation of these programs. The performance of a screening program should respond to a thorough analysis of diagnosing procedures that makes it possible to reduce to minimum the side effects. It is required that screening be effective in terms of cost to justify its performance. The decrease of the mortality rate entails a lower burden for the society; however, the ethical reflections makes one inclined to think that the benefit should be fundamentally individual rather than collective. The assumption that early diagnosis is always advantageous and that detection of tumor at early stage brings about better therapeutic results has been called into question by some types of cancer. The policy of cancer screening programs has changed in recent years. Low effectiveness, ethical consequences derived from early diagnosis or the high cost of certain strategies lead to the evaluation of new forms of approaching this issue, which will facilitate to avail of necessary resources to be invested in less costly and risky methods. It is certain that 80 % of cancers may be attributed to risky behaviours such as smoking and animal fat-rich diets, so this means that health policies should be oriented toward the promotion of healthy lifestyle

Palabras clave : Massive screening programs; cancer control; ethics.

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