Screening has both advantages and disadvantages.
- The timely detection of a disease general increases the likelihood of a cure or limits its impact. Detecting certain risk factors in time can prevent the disease getting worse.
- The results may reassure people or encourage them to start living a healthier life.
- A false positive result worries people unnecessarily and means they carry out an unnecessary diagnostic test.
- Moreover, an abnormal result can result in a treatment, while the abnormality would have disappeared spontaneously or never resulted in complaints.
- A false negative result wrongly reassures people. Moreover, care providers may pay less attention to clinically determined symptoms.
- Some people find waiting for the result of a screening very stressful.
- Some screenings are uncomfortable or even involve health risks, e.g. due to exposure to radiation.
A screening sometimes provides information that has not been asked for, e.g. about congenital risks or diseases that were not looked for.
As a screening not only has advantages, but may also have disadvantages, it is necessary to make a careful assessment of its reliability and usefulness. This also applies to a screening that is offered within the framework of a population screening by the government.