The new generation of cancer early detection tests holds remarkable promise for revolutionizing and changing the paradigm of cancer early detection. Dozens of cancer early detection tests are being developed and evaluated. Some are already commercialized and available for use, most as a complement to and not in place of existing recommended cancer screening tests. This review evaluates existing single- and multi-cancer early detection tests (MCEDs), discussing their performance characteristics including sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and accuracy. It also critically looks at the potential harms that could result from these tests, including false positive and negative results, the risk of overdiagnosis and overtreatment, psychological and economic harms, and the risk of widening cancer inequities. We also review the large-scale, population-based studies that are being launched in the United States and United Kingdom to determine the impact of MCEDs on clinically relevant outcomes and implications for current practice.


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