cancer screening disadvantages, writing homework help

There is a growing recognition among medical
professionals that cancer screening is a

double-edged sword. While some individuals may
benefit from early detection, others

may be falsely diagnosed and treated for cancer
unnecessarily. To make good decisions

about screening, the public needs to know its
potential benefits and harms.

The following two paragraphs are taken from a
study to test physicians? ability to

interpret clinical laboratory results.

To diagnose colorectal cancer, the hemoccult
test is conducted to detect occult

blood in the stool. For symptom-free people over
50 years old who participate in

screening using the hemoccult test, the
following information is available.

The probability that one of these people has
colorectal cancer is 0.3 percent. If a

person has colorectal cancer, the probability is
50 percent that he will have a

positive hemoccult test. If a person does not
have colorectal cancer, the

probability is 3 percent that he will still have
a positive hemoccult test. Imagine a

person (over age 50, no symptoms) who has a
positive hemoccult test in your

screening. What is the probability that this
person actually has colorectal


Your assignment is to use this hemoccult test
scenario as an example to communicate the

nature of a medical test to a lay person. (Think
of a family member or a friend who is not

familiar with statistics.) You need to
incorporate three elements in your essay:

1. Identify the base rate (or prevalence in
medical literature), sensitivity (the

percentage of individuals with a disease who are
correctly classified as having the

disease), and false positive rate in this case.
Provide a brief and clear description

of these terms using your own words.

2. Calculate the probability that this person
actually has colorectal cancer given a

positive test.

3. Based on your analysis, communicate your
result to someone who thinks that

routine cancer screening tests for healthy
persons are always a good idea.

Your essay will be scored based on your (1)
interpretation, (2) calculation, and (3)

communication; see the attached rubric. But
don?t simply do what the rubric tells you to

do. Be creative: up to 3 additional points are based on
effort, originality, or insight.

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