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Sensitivity and Specificity

In medicine, diagnostic tests are administered to patients to detect diseases so that appropriate treatments can be provided. A test can be relatively simple, such as a bacterial culture for infection, or a radiographic image to detect the presence of a tumor. Alternatively, tests can be quite complex, such as using mass spectrometry to quantify many different protein levels in serum and using this ‘protein profile’ to detect disease. Screening tests are special cases of diagnostic tests, where apparently healthy individuals are tested with the goal of diagnosing certain conditions early, when they can be treated most effectively and with higher success. For example, in the United States, annual screening mammograms are recommended for healthy women aged 40 years and older to facilitate early detection ...

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