1.1 Background of the Issue
Health screening is often thought of as the key to early diagnosis and treatment of illnesses – if a disease is spotted early, successful treatment is more likely. However, in reality, there are several complications behind medical screening tests that most patients have not had the opportunity to understand. In many cases it holds true that doctors and researchers have long known the consequences of certain medical tests, but this information has not been relayed to patients (Mc Cartney, 2014; “When to Say ‘Whoa!’ to Doctors,” 2012).
1.2 Recent Developments
The belief that medical screening is essentially beneficial for health has been brought about by the recent influx of new treatments and technologies into the market (Begley & Sharon, 2011). As private-sector medical tests become increasingly common in countries like the UK, doctors now warn patients that these tests may actually bring about more harm than good (Bhattacharya, 2005; Dixon, 2013; Mc Cartney, 2014). Studies have concluded that several medical tests, like the Prostrate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test, do not actually offer any overall benefits. However, these tests continue to be recommended without clear explanations about their benefits (Mc Cartney, 2014).
1.3 Research Question
In light of these recent developments, it is now of great importance to find out: Does health screening do more harm than good to patients?
1.4 Thesis Statement
Health screening is, undoubtedly, more harmful than beneficial to patients by and large, because it leads to overdiagnosis, unwanted side effects as well as unnecessary expenditure on treatment.
1.5 Scope of the report
This report describes the current situation in the medical scene – the mindset of medical practitioners as well as misconceptions of patients. The risks posed by health screening are explained, keeping in mind common misunderstandings among patients. This report also includes recommendations to ensure patients are better informed in the future.
2.0 Body of Contents
2.1 Overdiagnosis – a common issue in many screening tests
Many health screening tests tend to produce false positive results, or find abnormalities that may not cause any harm at all. For example, around 6-10% of mammogram results are false positives, meaning the images show what appear to be tumors but are actually cysts or harmless tissues. The estimate may be higher in younger women, as young women have denser breast tissue which may be difficult to scan, as compared to women over 50, whose breasts are mainly composed of fatty tissues (Geraci, Gordon, Gower, Harrar & Paturel, 2008).
Screening for dementia produces results that are even more inaccurate - 23% of results are false positives. So even if a patient has received a positive result from the test, the chances of him having dementia are only around 17%. The generation of false positive results causes unnecessary distress to patients as well as their families (Mc...