New Research Says Cancer Screenings Need Improvement

By: Mark Tenia Email
By: Mark Tenia Email

October 21, 2009

In light of recent research, the Chief Medical Officer at the American Cancer Society says the advantages of health screenings have been overstated. He added that the industry must take a closer look at the screening process for both breast cancer and prostate cancer.

According to Science Daily, researchers revealed this week that current cancer screening programs are leading to potential over-diagnosis and over-treatment, contradicting what doctors have historically recommended.

"There was a broad sweeping statement a number of years ago that everyone should be screened for everything," said Martha Jefferson Hospital Cancer Care Center Director, Faye Satterly.

Researchers say that doctors may be spending considerable time and resources treating a smaller tumor that does not need to be treated, and in turn, may miss a more lethal and aggressive tumor.

"I think it helps people understand that health care, as much of a science as it is, it is not an exact science. We are constantly learning new things so we always have to take that into account and react accordingly," said Satterly.

However, many organizations, including the American Cancer Society and Martha Jefferson Hospital, say it does not change their recommendations. They do say it shows the medical industry has to come up with a more effective screening process and better ways to treat cancer.

"We try to target in on the very group that is highest risk, and at this point that will still be our practice. We do have to look at where do you get the most value," said Satterly.

Still, many people say it is important information to consider, and many believe a healthy debate on health care and all the different options are imperative to solving some of the issues that we are facing today.

Satterly says anyone who is unsure about whether they should get screened should consult their doctor of physician.

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