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Talking to your patientsDoctor

As a health care provider, your recommendation can impact your patient’s screening decisions. It is important to provide information about the benefits and potential harms of screening so an informed choice can be made.

Benefits and potential harms of screening: Facilitating informed decision making with patients

The Screening Guidelines (pdf) aim to ensure individuals receive the greatest benefit from cancer screening while minimizing potential harms.

Health care providers should facilitate a discussion with their patients about the benefits and potential harms of screening. The goal of the discussion is to:

  • Foster the patient’s understanding of the test, its benefits, and potential harms, and

  • Support patient participation in the clinical decision – one that is informed and consistent with the individual’s preferences and values.

The balance of benefits and potential harms differs by age. Refer to the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care and Public Health Agency of Canada (pdf) to support the decision making process.


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