The overselling of cancer and the tests to find it, Consumer Reports takes on the business of medicine.
One of the diseases that people are most scared of is cancer. Most people do not understand what it is, submit to screenings for the disease (s) but yet, with all the screening and prodding and poking and operating, many are scared into making what they believe are life and death decisions, when they are not. Others, find out that the care they are told they need does not change the course of the disease, yet others are saved.
Do we need all this screening and health information and is it good for us to know. Consumer Reports March issue 2013 takes this on in a well researched and practical article to help arm you, the consumer with the info you need to make an informed decision. The thought of an early demise will freak most of us out, but what if much of this has been overdone and many of the disease processes we find early on end up never being life threatening and what if the body takes care of some those early tumors itself.
Last May 2012, 9 specialty groups admitted that many of the tests such as mammograms, prostate evaluations, etc were overdone and oversold, and often prevented nothing. They also admitted that often, people were harmed by unnecessary interventions from false positives, which led to biopsies and other procedures. In men, hundreds of thousands had their prostates removed with sometimes horrible side effects including incontinence and impotence, even though prostate cancers are usually slow growing and most men die from other problems. What is even more interesting is that as this information became public, and patients avoided PSA and prostate tests, medical groups began to advertize to motivate people to have these procedures done anyway, with the greatest technological advances available to rid people of something that may never affect their lives.
Fear unfortunately, is how many medical procedures have been sold in the past and it is an effective motivator. Unfortunately, consumers are finding out they do not know who to trust. Many health fairs are actually places where medical professionals market for new clients and find those willing to submit. True, often these help people perhaps find healthcare providers they will need in the future however, be aware that blood pressure and other screenings that seem to be altruistic in nature are marketing tactics by those in white coats.
As a health care consumer, you are likely finding that with a higher deductible, it is even more important for you to choose health care services wisely. I highly recommend you read this months Consumer Reports since it offers great advice on which tests are worthwhile and which are not. Since more of the cost is borne by you, why waste it on tests that have little value to the public but may scare you into doing something rash. Sometimes, the less you know the better.
Also, be wary of genetic testing for certain diseases, since genetics are not absolute. Even though you possess perhaps BRAC 1 or 2, it does not mean you will get cancer, but it does mean you are in a higher risk group. The danger of overselling cancer and the fear mongering that goes with it is that many women have had organs removed such as their breasts out of fear rather than out of disease.
What do you think? As always, I value your opinion.