Excessive Screenings in Middle Age Lead to Over-Diagnosis and Over-Treatment
Recently, doctors and patients alike are beginning to reconsider exactly how necessary screenings for certain sicknesses are. Once a person reaches middle age, for example, they seem to be inundated with recommendations, screenings and tests to stay on the safe side of things in order to prevent illnesses before they even start.
The American Cancer Society tells women to begin yearly mammograms at age 40, but the U. S. Preventive Services Task Force doesn't find such screenings necessary until age 50. For men, it has been recommended to begin prostate screening at age 45 or 50, but there's not even any evidence for or against regular screenings for men under the age of 75.
Financially, mammography costs the government $5 billion per year, and prostate screening costs around $3 billion.
Dr. H. Gilbert Welch of Dartmouth Medical School and author of `Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Heath' said that technology is getting more advanced and more able to detect individual abnormalities in people through testing. "The biggest problem with over-diagnosis is it triggers over-treatment", he said. "It's a side effect of our relentless desire to find disease early".
According to Dr. Christopher Cannon of Brigham and Women's Hospital, most of the pressure for excessive testing comes from the patients because they want to know "do I or don't I" have a certain disease.