n South African Medical Journal - Screening - benefits or harms? : editorial

Volume 103, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Screening asymptomatic patients is now an established part of medical practice. We routinely measure blood pressure, test urine, and carry out a chest X-ray pre-operatively. Screening is also offered to those who haven't asked for medical intervention. Many medical aids advise women over 50 to have an annual mammogram and to have their bone mineral density (BMD) measured at various intervals. Some even reward these women in the form of 'points' in various schemes linked to medical cover. People are advised to have an annual health check that includes cholesterol measurement. Screening has become routine - but few stop and ask whether it is beneficial, and even fewer stop to look at potential harms.

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