Health News Review
  • Jan 12 2011

    “Simple blood test” – cancer breakthrough or nightmare?

    …epidemic.…Most assume there are no downsides to looking for things to be wrong. But the truth is that early diagnosis is a double-edged sword. While it has the potential to help some, it always has a hidden side-effect: overdiagnosis, the detection of abnormalities that are not destined to ever bother people in their lifetime. Becoming a patient unnecessarily has real human costs. There’s the anxiety of being told you are somehow not …

  • Oct 7 2011

    Thoughtful analysis of the USPSTF and prostate cancer screening

    …reening in the control group. The validity of the negative PLCO results is uncertain. The ERSPC study was more credible, but showed only a small absolute survival benefit. This benefit must be balanced against the harms of overdiagnosis–finding cancers that would never cause clinical problems during a man’s lifetime–and the resulting overtreatment, which can lead to urinary, bowel, and sexual dysfunction. Unfortunately, we c…

  • Feb 10 2011

    Pioneer Press publishes my call for balance in cancer screening messages

    …uch promotions. Dartmouth’s Dr. Gil Welch (author of “Should I Be Tested For Cancer? Maybe Not, And Here’s Why”) wrote about mammography in a medical journal: “The question is no longer whether overdiagnosis occurs, but how often it occurs.” He included the following table to explain the tradeoffs of harms and benefits (debits and credits) – and this was for 50-year old women, for whom the evidence of …

  • Oct 3 2012

    9-part series on over-diagnosis

    Ray Moynihan, a terrific health care journalist who is now pursuing his PhD on overdiagnosis and working as a Senior Research Fellow at Bond University in Australia, kicks off the first of a nine-part series, “Over-diagnosis Epidemic” on TheConversation.edu.au website. The first part is an introduction, “Preventing over-diagnosis:  how to stop harming the healthy.” Other colleagues author the subsequent parts in the serie…

  • Sep 15 2014

    USA Today story shows lack of awareness of debate over pre-diabetes classification

    … pre-diabetes does not mean that you will develop diabetes. In fact, of 100 people like you, fewer than 50 are likely to develop diabetes in the next 10 years.”  And it has an entire section on “Harms and risks of overdiagnosis.”  Excerpt of that section: “There is a hazard in creating a pre-disease associated with a disease such as type 2 diabetes, which is itself little more than a risk factor. The biochemical diagnosis …

  • Sep 16 2014

    Evidence/balance lacking in Philly story on “Don’t Fear The Finger” campaign

    The Philadelphia Inquirer published a story, “Prostate cancer activists launch ‘the finger’ campaign to stem decline in testing.“  It begins: Kristine Warner wanted an eye-catching way to encourage men to talk to their doctors about the complicated, controversial subject of prostate cancer screening. Don’t Fear The Finger campaign was born. Go ahead and snicker. It got your attention. The finger in question, of cou…

  • Feb 6 2013

    Five year survival rates can mislead – message to medical educators, medical journals, journalists and the public

    … lives?  For two reasons. The first is lead time bias. Earlier detection implies that the time of diagnosis is earlier; this alone leads to higher survival at five years evenwhen patients do not live any longer. The second is overdiagnosis. Screening detects abnormalities that meet the pathological definition of cancer but that will never progress to cause symptoms or death (non-progressive or slow growing cancers). The higher the number of overd…

  • May 28 2013

    Journal editors decry the paradox of mental health: overtreatment and under-recognition

    …orted and shared, so that the full picture of the benefits and harms of tested interventions can be seen (see, for example, http://www.alltrials.net). Conferences hosted by PharmedOut (http://www.pharmedout.org/) and Avoiding Overdiagnosis (http://www.preventingoverdiagnosis.net/) It concludes: “The largest challenge may be to recognize and prioritize mental health globally—with the requisite political visibility, funding, research, and at…

  • Sep 9 2013

    When the word “cancer” corrupts thought and action. Labeling hurts. The words matter.

    …ancer in the United States, 1973-2002,” he and a co-author concluded that the increase was not a jump in the true occurrence of thyroid cancer, but rather, finding earlier abnormalities that might turn out to be benign. Overdiagnosis.  Overtreatment.  Impact on treatment decisions.  Yes, the wording matters. ——————– Tweet Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/garyschwitzer https://twitter.com/…

  • Oct 17 2013

    Omega-3 fatty acids & prostate cancer: study and stories off-base

    …d.  First of all, the absolute overall risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer was less than 5%.  Most men in the study were diagnosed based on an abnormal PSA test result, which is known to markedly increase the risk of overdiagnosis of prostate cancer–that is, finding cancers that would never cause harm during a man’s lifetime.  Overall, only 156 (18.7%) of cancers were high-grade (potentially aggressive). Furthermore, there were jus…




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