Health News Review
  • Feb 25 2014

    Thyroid cancer: “not an epidemic of disease but an epidemic of diagnosis”

    A paper in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, “Current Thyroid Cancer Trends in the United States,” addresses overdiagnosis of thyroid cancer.  The authors report a tripling of incidence over the past 40 years, but a stable death rate.  The authors write that nearly all of the increase was in less aggressive or small tumors that may never cause harm: “…it is not an epidemic of disease but rat…

  • Nov 10 2013

    NBC races the clock in a race to the bottom with anchormen & prostate cancer screening promotion

    … localized prostate cancer is associated with erectile dysfunction (in approximately 400 of 1000 men treated), as well as gynecomastia and hot flashes.There is convincing evidence that PSA-based screening leads to substantial overdiagnosis of prostate tumors. The amount of overdiagnosis of prostate cancer is of important concern because a man with cancer that would remain asymptomatic for the remainder of his life cannot benefit from screening or…

  • Jul 20 2010

    Will anyone get through life without a mental disorder?

    Today must be psych day on the blog. There’s a noteworthy column in Psychiatric Times, “Normality Is an Endangered Species: Psychiatric Fads and Overdiagnosis,” by Allen Frances, MD. He was chair of the task force that worked on the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual – DSM-IV – one edition of the “bible of psychiatry.” He is professor emeritus of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine. The…

  • Feb 28 2011

    Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick In The Pursuit of Health

    “I believe overdiagnosis is the biggest problem posed by modern medicine,” writes Dr. Gil Welch in his new book, “Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick In The Pursuit of Health,” which he coauthored with Drs. Lisa Schwartz and Steve Woloshin. Welch continues: “It has led millions of people to become patients unnecessarily, to be made anxious about their health, to be treated needlessly, and to bear the inconvenience …

  • Sep 9 2013

    Breast cancer and stroke screening stories that deserve careful attention

    …h epidemiology at the University of Oxford, dismissed the research. He said, “These authors tell us that randomised controlled trials underestimate the effects of mammography, but don’t say why. Nor do they say anything about overdiagnosis, overtreatment, lead time bias, and length biased sampling. Finding a tumour early is necessary but not sufficient for screening to save lives. It might just mean that screen detected cancers have longer to go …

  • Oct 30 2012

    Were AP and AFP reporting on the same Lancet mammography paper?

    … have been misleading women for the past two decades by giving too rosy a picture of the benefits,” said Karsten Jorgensen, a researcher at the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen who has previously published papers on overdiagnosis. “It’s important they have at least acknowledged screening causes substantial harms,” he said, adding that countries should now re-evaluate their own programs. In the United States, a governme…

  • Oct 9 2013

    Beware the polyp police

    … most-studied and widely-used screening programs (for breast and prostate cancer, for instance) have faced evidence-based arguments about whether they were doing more harm than good. The main issue has been the possibility of overdiagnosis. In the case of colon cancer, because most of us will have polyps and very few of us will die from them, screening is also liable to result in overdiagnosis and overtreatment. If and when polyps are found, peop…

  • Apr 30 2012

    Analysis of two Annals papers on benefits of mammography in younger women

    …use of the test. The harms associated with mammographic screening include false-positive results, false-positive biopsy results, radiation exposure, false-negative results and false reassurance, pain related to the procedure, overdiagnosis (that is, diagnosis of tumors that are of no threat), and overtreatment. False-positive results are the most common and easily quantifiable harm. On the basis of statistics specific to U.S. practice patterns, a…

  • Dec 10 2013

    The potential harms of screening – seen this time in lung cancer screening

    …dergo an invasive diagnostic procedure, have surgical resection, be given a diagnosis of lung cancer, and require multiple sequential follow-up studies when some tumors are potentially clinically insignificant. These cases of overdiagnosis are treated as any other lung cancer because it is generally not possible to distinguish indolent lesions from more aggressive tumors.” AP reports: “Putting the word ‘harmless’ next to …

  • Jan 6 2014

    NBC vastly exaggerates the potential benefits of lung cancer screening

    …ay be invasive, such as biopsy and surgery. …(There is a) high number of false-positive findings requiring further evaluation with imaging or clinical follow-up, which were predominantly done for benign disease. … Overdiagnosis and consequent overtreatment is a concern in lung cancer screening. The 1% to 2.7% prevalence of unrecognized lung cancer suggests a preclinical pool of lung cancer in high-risk populations. The clinical signif…




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