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Screening for brain tumours

Men and women discussing brain tumours

This page is about screening for brain tumours. Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease before they show any signs of having it.

Before screening for any type of cancer can be carried out, doctors must have an accurate, simple, quick and cost effective test to use. The test must be reliable in picking up cancers that are there. And it must not give a positive result in people who do not have cancer. The only test that can find a brain tumour is a brain scan, usually with either a CT scanner or MRI scanner. These are very expensive tests and CT scans give a dose of radiation. 

Brain tumours are quite rare. So if screening was used, large numbers of people who were well would have brain scans that they did not need. At the moment the harms outweigh the benefits. So screening is not currently recommended or practical for brain tumours.

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Updated: 11 November 2013