3 items in this week’s news with caveats about various screenings: pap, PSA, oral

Pap smears

Under the headline, “Doctors Too Pap-Happy,” HealthDay reports: “Most primary care physicians advise women to get “Pap” tests for cervical cancer screening more often than clinical guidelines recommend, new research reveals.”

PSA tests

Reuters Health explained: “The American College of Physicians (ACP) became the latest group to ask doctors to be clear about the limited benefits and “substantial harms” of prostate cancer screening before offering their male patients a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.”

Oral cancer screening

Reuters Health also reported: “There is not enough evidence to recommend for or against screening for oral cancer, a government-backed panel said today, due to a lack of data on possible benefits and harms tied to screening.”

Common theme – as Sir Muir Gray explained:

“All screening programmes do harm; some do good as well, and of these, some do more good than harm at reasonable cost.”

And we do harm when we don’t adequately communicate potential harms to those making screening decisions.


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