Introduction

Early detection of cancer through screening is an important component of the nation's cancer control efforts (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2011). General screening efforts are hampered, however, by at least four factors:

  1. Not every person benefits from screening, factors such as family history of cancer, age, race, and gender influence the decision to get screened;
  2. For some individuals the thought of being diagnosed with cancer through screening is so terrifying that they interfere with detection efforts;
  3. Screening tests for a number of cancers exist, however, only three have shown to reduce cancer mortality (i.e., cervical, breast, and colo-rectal cancer; National Cancer Institute, 2010);
  4. Screening recommendations vary across governmental, professional societies, and advocacy groups, leading to contradictory messages and uncertainty and confusion among patients.

Screening for prostate cancer is a prime example of the difficulties that surround the screening decision. The PSA test is widely available and administered, yet it has not shown to reduce mortality through prostate cancer, is not a very reliable indicator of prostate cancer and often requires follow-up tests and procedures to rule out cancer diagnoses. It is therefore recommended that patients together with their providers decide together about having a PSA test by discussing the pros and cons of testing and its potential follow-up procedures. The reality of managed care, however, does not permit for an in-depth discussion and often times the test is administered without the knowledge of the patient (Hoffman et al., 2009). Thus, it often falls onto patients to inform themselves about the screening procedures, their frequency and possible benefits and drawbacks.

The proposed App is designed to make the screening information and decision process simple and reliable. This application is in line with the call of the Health 2.0/NCI challenge to develop apps that address a problem in the cancer control continuum, specifically in the area of early detection, screening, and informed decision-making.