Introduction to Clinical Oncology
Cancer Prevention

Cancer Prevention


Efforts to control cancer can be considered as primary, secondary or tertiary prevention.

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Primary Prevention - Population-based health promotion programmes and campaigns focus on preventing a disease from occurring and are examples of primary prevention. "Slip, Slap, Slop" is an example of a primary prevention programme with a public education focus targeting children and adults.

Secondary Prevention - Screening to find asymptomatic or previously undiagnosed disease or abnormality is secondary prevention.  Secondary prevention opens opportunities to prevent the progression of disease before, or early in, the development of symptoms.  Secondary prevention can include the physical examination, laboratory tests or procedures.

Tertiary Prevention - Efforts to decrease the impact of a disease and restore the person to their pre-morbid level of function are considered to be tertiary prevention.  Knowledge about outcomes, prognosis, survival and quality of life are essential to tertiary prevention.  The negative impact of disease can be physical as well as emotional so attention to symptom control and end of life issues can have a great effect in lessening the impact of disease and helping people to live their lives.


Do you recall the criteria for a good screening test? Test yourself and review:

What are the criteria for a good screening test related to each factor listed below?

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