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Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease. This is before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:

  • need to be reliable at picking up cancers
  • overall must do more good than harm to people taking part
  • must be something that people are willing to do

Screening tests are not perfect and have some risks. The screening programme should also be good value for money for the NHS.

Why there is no national screening programme

There is no national screening programme because:

  • this condition is rare, so many people would have unnecessary tests
  • the benefits don't outweigh the costs

It would probably be most cost effective to screen people who may be at higher risk. But first, we must be sure we know who has a higher risk.

Talk to your GP if you think you are at higher than average risk of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.