An expert has claimed that earlier diagnosis of people with potential cancer symptoms is likely to have a greater influence on survival rates than population-wide screening programmes.
According to Dr Willie Hamilton, consultant senior lecturer at the University of Bristol, early detection of the disease is vital as it allows cancer treatment to be administered at a stage when the illness is easier to treat.
He claimed that, while important, screening will have less of an impact as it only targets certain people.
"Sure screening works, but it only works in the age groups called for screening, it only works in those who attend, and not all cancers are detectable even in those who attend," he explained.
Dr Hamilton emphasised that he is pro-screening, but that "we have to recognise the contribution it will make will be small".
In a recent report, the UK's leading cancer expert, Professor Mike Richards, claimed that as many as ten thousand deaths occur each year as a result of late diagnosis of the disease.