Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and the burden could be reduced by evidence-based strategies for the primary prevention of cancer, the early detection of malignancies and more adequate treatment of cancer patients. Previous research has shown that lifestyle factors are associated with common cancers and that several cancer screening programmes are cost-effective in reducing cancer-specific mortality. But, some recent studies reported that participants of screening programs might unintentionally change their lifestyle. Cancer screening might be a teachable moment or, on the other hand, have a false health certificate effect. Despite that the evidence is scarce, cancer screening might have opportunities for lifestyle improvements, although a possible health certificate effect still remains. Integrated approaches to combine primary and secondary prevention have the potential to optimise the efforts to improve cancer prevention and survival. More research is warranted to investigate evidence-based approaches.

Lifestyle, Lifestyle-related diseases, Mass screening, Primary prevention, Teachable moment,
Best Practice and Research in Clinical Gastroenterology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van der Aalst, C.M, van Klaveren, R.J, & de Koning, H.J. (2010). Does participation to screening unintentionally influence lifestyle behaviour and thus lifestyle-related morbidity?. Best Practice and Research in Clinical Gastroenterology (Vol. 24, pp. 465–478). doi:10.1016/j.bpg.2010.06.001