Reviewing the Dark Side of Cancer Screening

Medical practitioners and health authorities often advice that after reaching a certain age, adults can forgo the various screening tests used to check establish the presence of cancerous cells in the human body. Even so, many patients regardless of their age are often reluctant to disregard tests that have long been touted as being lifesaving. A quick survey by the New York Times indicates that a large number of women in their sixties still get annual mammograms.

Walking down the streets, you will easily bump into people who continue getting colonoscopies despite the fact that they are not prone to the risk factors of colorectal cancer. The same applies to men who are at a lower risk of getting prostate cancer. What many people do not realize is that ill-advised cancer screening comes at a price. This is not just about the billions of dollars that add up the country’s healthcare bill. It has been established that screening tests may actually lead to false positive results and other devastating implications.

Misleading Indications

Such false positive results have misleading indications, which point towards a possible cancer that requires extra and often invasive testing that also has its own complications. A recent survey indicates that women understand the benefits of mammography than its harms. If for instance, a lesion is falsely detected during mammogram screening, the false positive result may lead to emotional distress besides necessitating a surgical biopsy that comes with its risks.

Despite this, more people are visiting screening centers due to the long-established belief that it is better to be safe than sorry. Simply put, why should one take a chance and let a potentially debilitating to go undetected? The widespread focus on the “what ifs” rather than the possible ills of cancer screening needs to change. People also need to stop taking advantage of the fact that insurance covers cancer screening.

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