Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease 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.
No screening available
There is no national screening programme for hairy cell leukaemia because:
- this cancer is rare, so many people would have unnecessary tests
- the benefits don't outweigh the costs
With rare diseases it is more cost effective to screen people who are thought to be at higher risk. But first we need to be sure who is at higher risk.
Talk to your GP if you are worried about your risk of developing cancer.