Monday, April 4, 2011

To screen or not to screen? That is the question.

Screening arouses great passion, well greatish. Sticking to prostate cancer, there has been a back and forth argument for many years. There is no doubt that using prostate specific antigen testing detects many cancers; however the key question remains whether finding these cancers impacts survival. In other words, would many of these men die with rather than because of their prostate cancer. According to Wennberg, if 1000 men are screened for 10 years, 1 cancer will be found and treated successfully, 4 men will die of their cancer regardless and 50 men will be over-diagnosed and over-treated.
A study just published finds that over a 20 year period, there is no differnece in death rate form prostate cancer between those screened and unscreended.
Again, this points to the potential for reducing variation and reducing costs in healthcare.

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