Understanding Population Cancer Screening

CPD Credits2

Feel confident when explaining the benefits and limitations of population cancer screening

Designed for healthcare professionals - Free of charge

As a healthcare professional you are a trusted source of information about population cancer screening. You must be able to clearly explain the complexities of screening to patients so that they understand the benefits and limitations.

This online course, developed in partnership with UCD, is designed to help you fully understand population cancer screening so that you can better communicate the benefits, limitations, processes and outcomes of population screening programmes to your patients.

The course contains three short, interactive modules exploring:

  • Differentiating diagnostic and screening tests
  • Principles of population screening
  • Criteria used to decide on introduction of a population screening programme
  • An overview of current National Screening Programmes in Ireland
  • Controversies in population screening
  • Interval cancers - definitions and rates

Why complete this course?

Trust in, and engagement with screening programmes is a critical factor in reducing the rate of cancer in a population.

Screening programmes cannot detect all cancers and it is extremely important that all healthcare professionals can clearly explain this fact and the reasons why this is the case.

What you will learn

On completion of this course you will be able to

  • Define what population cancer screening is
  • Discuss the benefits and limitations of population screening programmes
  • Describe how population screening tests differ from diagnostic tests
  • Explain the population screening programmes currently offered to adults in Ireland
  • Explain what is meant by interval cancers

"We are pleased to offer this learning opportunity in partnership with UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science. As a college we are fully committed to supporting essential screening services and maintaining trust in our screening programmes. This course outlines the benefits and limitations of cancer screening for our population. Screening saves lives but will not prevent cancer in all individuals who are screened. I would urge healthcare professionals to complete this course so that they can clearly explain to patients why this is the case."

Professor Mary Horgan, President, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Developed in partnership with UCD

This course has been developed by RCPI in collaboration with University College Dublin School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science.

The clinical lead for the course is Professor Patricia Fitzpatrick, Professor of Epidemiology and Biomedical Statistics, and Head of Subject for Public Health at UCD.

When you book this course it will be available to you in our elearning environment RCPI Brightspace for 12 months.

Meet the clinicians who developed this course

This course has been developed by RCPI in collaboration with University College Dublin School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science.

Professor Patricia Fitzpatrick

Professor Patricia Fitzpatrick (MB, BCh, BAO, MD, DCH, MPH, FRCPI, FFPHMI) is Full Professor of Epidemiology and Biomedical Statistics at University College Dublin and Subject Head for Public Health.

She is a Consultant Epidemiologist/ Director of Evaluation of the National Screening Service, where she also is Chair of the Research Committee. She is also Consultant in Preventative Medicine at St Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin. She is a Member of the Guidelines Development Group of the EU Joint Research Council European Council Initiative on Breast Cancer, developing the new guidelines for breast cancer screening. She is a former Dean of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

Professor Gráinne Flannelly

Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and lead colposcopist and trainer at the National Maternity Hospital and St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin. She is a clinical professor with the school of Medicine at the University College Dublin and enjoys teaching both undergraduates and postgraduates.

An advocate for cervical cancer prevention programmes, she was the clinical director with the CervicalCheck programme from 2010 to 2018. She has a keen interest in training in colposcopy and delivers web based tutorials to trainees from all over Ireland in preparation for the British Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (BSCCP) OSCE examination. She is the current chair of the Digital Learning Group of the BSCCP which develops and delivers bespoke training courses in colposcopy.

Professor Pádraic MacMathúna

Professor Padraic MacMathuna is Clinical Director of the National Screening Service BowelScreen programme. He was appointed Consultant Gastroenterologist in Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in 1995.

His research areas include Colon Cancer biology, CT Colon Imaging, High Risk colorectal Cancer screening and endoscopic intervention. He has received research grant funding from the Irish Cancer Society, HRB and SFI. He was appointed Associate Professor of Medicine in recognition of contribution to the postgraduate (Former Postgraduate Dean) and undergraduate academic activity of the Mater and UCD. He is a participant in the NCSS Expert Group on Hereditary Cancer Risk.

Professor Ann O'Doherty

Professor Ann O'Doherty is Clinical Director of the National Screening Service BreastCheck programme. She was appointed Consultant Radiologist in the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast and Clinical Director Eastern Region Breast Screening Service Northern Ireland in 1989.

In 1992 she became the Quality Assurance Director; Northern Ireland Screening Programme until 1999 when she was appointed Clinical Director of BreastCheck and Consultant Radiologist in the St Vincent's Healthcare Group.