Early cancer diagnosis aims to detect symptomatic patients as soon as possible to receive the best feasible treatment. When cancer care is delayed or unavailable, there is a lower chance of survival, more treatment complications, and higher treatment costs. By delivering care at the earliest possible stage, earlier diagnosis improves cancer outcomes like having successful head and neck cancer treatments. Thus early cancer diagnosis is an effective public health strategy for head and neck cancer in the Philippines.
Screening is not the same as early diagnosis. It is defined as the presumptive detection of undiagnosed disease in a seemingly healthy, asymptomatic population using tests, examinations, or other procedures that can be applied quickly and easily to the target population. A screening program must include all core components of the screening process, from inviting the target population to ensuring that individuals diagnosed with the disease receive effective treatment.
Compared to early diagnosis, cancer screening is a distinct and more complex public health strategy that necessitates additional resources, infrastructure, and coordination. WHO recommends that screening programs be implemented only when their effectiveness has been demonstrated. Also, when resources are sufficient to cover the target population, when facilities confirm diagnoses and ensure treatments are available, and when the disease prevalence is high enough to justify screening.
WHO assists the Member States in developing and implementing cancer early diagnosis and screening programs that are feasible and cost-effective and have adequate capacity to avoid delays in diagnosis and treatment. WHO published the “Guide to Cancer Early Diagnosis” in 2017 with the goal of assisting policymakers and program managers in facilitating timely diagnosis and improving access to cancer treatment for all. Life can be saved, and cancer care’s personal, societal, and economic costs can be reduced by developing effective early detection strategies.
Although gynecological cancers are frightening, they are all preventable and treatable.