Cancer: Screening Methods

Cancer: Screening Methods(i)

Anal cancer


MSM and persons with HPV-associated dysplasia(ii)

Procedure Digital rectal exam, high resolution anoscopy & anal cytology
Evidence of benefit Reduces incidence of anal cancer
Screening interval 1-3 years
Comments Ongoing research may identify at risk groups for screening

Breast cancer

Person Women 50-74 years(iii)
Procedure Mammography
Evidence of benefit ↓ Breast cancer mortality
Screening interval 1-3 years

Cervical cancer


Women > 21 years

Procedure PAP smear or liquid based cervical cytology test
Evidence of benefit ↓ Cervical cancer mortality
Screening interval 1-3 years

HPV genotype testing may aid PAP/liquid based cervical screening

Colorectal cancer


Persons 50-75 years or with a life expectancy > 10 years


According to local screening programme practice. Colonoscopy every 10 years if willing/ able. If unable, annual faecal immunochemistry test (FIT) for occult blood, or multitarget stool DNA (MT-sDNA) testing every 3 years, or computed tomography colonography (CTC) every 5 years

Evidence of benefit ↓ Colorectal cancer mortality
Screening interval Depending on screening method used

HepatoCellular Carcinoma (HCC)


HCC screening should follow current EASL guidelines*, see: Assessment of PLWH, Liver Cirrhosis: Management and General Recommendations for Persons with Viral Hepatitis/HIV Co-infection


Ultrasound (and alphafoetoprotein)

Evidence of benefit Earlier diagnosis allowing for improved ability for surgical eradication. The clinical management of nodules should be in line with EASL treatment strategy guidelines
Screening interval Every 6 months
Comments * Risk factors for HCC in this population include family history of HCC, ethnicity (Asians, Africans), HDV and age > 45 years. EASL guidelines propose using the PAGE-B score in Caucasians to assess the HCC risk

Prostate cancer


Men > 50 years with a life expectancy >10 years



Evidence of benefit Use of PSA is controversial
Screening interval 1-2 years
Comments Pros: ↑ early diagnosis and modest ↓ prostate cancer specific mortality.
Cons: overtreatment, adverse effects of treatment on quality of life

Lung cancer

Person Age 50-80 years old who are at high risk of lung cancer
(at least a 20 pack-year smoking history, and are either current smokers or former smokers having quit within the past 15 years)
Procedure Low-dose helical CT (where local screening programs are available)
Evidence of benefit ↓ Lung cancer related mortality
Screening interval Every year
Comments Evidence confirmed in large RCT, but persons with HIV not included and there may be a higher false positive rate among people with HIV


  1. Screening recommendations derived from the general population. These screenings should preferably be done as part of national general population screening programmes.
    Careful examination of skin should be performed regularly to detect cancers such as Kaposi’s sarcoma, basal cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma.
  2. Includes Anal Intraepithelial Neoplasia (AIN), Penile Intraepithelial Neoplasia (PIN), Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN), Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia (VAIN) and Vulval Intraepithelial Neoplasia (VIN).
  3. US and Australian national Guidelines recommend an upper age limit of 74 years, whilst some other national Guidelines suggest 70 years. Most US guidelines encourage shared decision-making for women in their 40s because of trade-offs between benefits and harms, whilst some European screening guidelines recommend starting screening at age 45.
  4. HCC screening is indicated in all cirrhotic HBV or HCV co-infected persons (even if HCV infection has been cured and HBV replication is medically suppressed) in a setting where treatment for HCC is available. Although the cost-effectiveness of HCC screening in persons with F3 fibrosis is uncertain, surveillance may be considered based on an individual risk assessment ( In HBV-positive non-cirrhotics, HCC screening should follow current EASL guidelines. Risk factors for HCC in this population include family history of HCC, ethnicity (Asians, Africans), HDV and age > 45 years. EASL guidelines propose using the PAGE-B score in Caucasians to assess the HCC risk, see Liver Cirrhosis: Management and Viral Hepatitis Co-infection in PLWH
  5. Whilst prostate cancer screening with PSA can reduce prostate cancer specific mortality, the absolute risk reduction is very small. Given limitations in the design and reporting of the randomized trials, there remain important concerns that the benefits of screening are outweighed by the potential harms to quality of life, including the substantial risks for over-diagnosis and treatment complications