November 21, 2009

THE REASON YOU NEED TO SCREEN TO FIND THE STUFF IS BECAUSE IT ISN'T A PROBLEM TO BEGIN WITH:

Cancer screening: What could it hurt? A lot, actually: Routine cancer testing saves lives, but it also leads to biopsies, surgeries, radiation, even deaths that otherwise would not have occurred. But experts' reevaluations are met with public angst. (Karen Kaplan, November 21, 2009, LA Times)

In 1984, Japan began screening the urine of 6-month-old infants for neuroblastoma, the most common type of solid tumor in young children. The test was simple and could show signs of cancer long before clinical symptoms arose.

Hundreds of infants went through the ordeal of diagnosis and treatment, but it didn't reduce the number of tumors, including deadly ones, found later. Almost none of the tumors caught by screening turned out to be dangerous -- and more of the screened children died from complications of surgery and chemotherapy than from the cancer itself.

In 2004, health officials ended the program.

The United States is grappling with the same type of problem today. After decades of focus on the upside of cancer screening, public health experts are increasingly reevaluating the wisdom of administering routine cancer screening tests to millions of asymptomatic people.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 21, 2009 6:39 AM
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