Comparison of Observed and Expected Numbers of Detected Cancers in the Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening Program

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The Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening program is a one-arm prospective study designed to evaluate the effect of multiple modalities for cancer screening. Basic programs consist of screening tests for cancer of the lung, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, gall bladder, pancreas and kidneys, in addition to prostate cancer screening for males and breast, cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancer screenings for females.


To investigate the possibility of overdiagnosis, we compared the observed numbers with expected numbers based on the model.


We calculated the expected number of cancers on the basis of negative or positive history of screening tests within the previous year, based on assumed sensitivity and sojourn time. Observed numbers of screen-detected cases for stomach, colorectal, lung, prostate and breast cancer were compared with expected numbers.


From February 2004 to January 2005, 3786 participants were enrolled in our study. The overall cancer detection rate was 5.8% (119/2061) for males and 4.1% (71/1725) for females. No statistically significant difference was found between observed and expected cases for colorectal cancer screening, gastric cancer screening for females and lung cancer screening for males. Observed numbers of breast, prostate and lung cancer for females exceeded those expected (P < 0.05).


Although cancer screening programs in the present study increased the detection of potentially curable cancers, these modalities, particularly lung, breast and prostate screening, might detect cancers which would not necessarily be clinically significant. We should therefore weigh up benefit and harm for such cancer screening programs.

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