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Medical Testing – Are We Doing Too Many Tests?

In 2012, the recommendation for men to get an annual PSA test (prostate specific antigen blood test) to screen for possible prostate cancer was reversed by the United Sates Preventive Services Task Force. Other recommendations for annual tests such as annual EKG tests, yearly pap smears, etc. have come under fire as well.

The idea and evidence is that these tests either don’t help much with health outcomes and in many cases lead to false positive test results sometimes resulting in unnecessary surgeries and life changing complications, for instance in the case of prostate cancer screenings.

In an op-ed article in the New York Times by Elisabeth Rosenthal, a medical doctor and NY Times reporter, she says intensive screening for disease is useless for a number of reason not only because of false positives, but also because so often early detection of disease does not alter the eventual long term course of the disease either because sometimes the body can heal itself, or because sometimes there are no effective treatments. And, sometimes the treatments themselves can be harmful.

Read the full article here »

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