Flaws in Cancer Screening

Tom Emerick

Posted 4/24/12 on Cracking Health Costs

Lisa M. Schwartz, MD and Steven Woloshin, MD wrote a good article published in the New York Times called “Endless Screenings Don’t Bring Everlasting Health.” Click here to read the full story.

Many Americans have high expectations for avoiding cancer with the right regimen of tests.  After all isn’t that what our wellness programs teach us? Isn’t that what we hear trumpeted in the popular media? Getting such screenings on a regular basis just makes good sense, no?

The hard truth is that such cancer screening exposes you to serious risks. One risk is from false positives. According to the article, “The screening test is abnormal, but in the end there is no cancer. False alarms matter because the follow-up tests needed to rule out cancer can be painful, dangerous and scary.”

Another risk is overdiagnoisis. According to the author, “But overdiagnosis — the detection of cancers never destined to cause problems — is arguably the most important harm of screening.”

False alarms and overdiagnosis carry risks of mortal hazard.

Please be informed.  I urge you to read the full article.

About Brian Klepper

Brian Klepper is a health care analyst, commentator and a Principal in Health Value Direct.
This entry was posted in Analytics, Conflicts of Interest, Health Care Cost, Market Dynamics, Medical Management, Physicians, Policy/Law/Regulation, Quality and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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