Health Care and AI ML

    The problem with Screening Tests

    Screening tests are a routine test done to diagnose diseases. Examples of some tests are:

    • Mammograms
    • PSA test (Prostate Exam)
    • Chest X-ray

    Tests like mammograms are routinely done to screen for breast cancer; if cancer is found, it can be treated quickly to minimize risks. However, as with many screening methods, there are drawbacks.

    False-positive tests in which the doctor can interpret results as a disease can lead to unnecessary procedures and further testing. These procedures can add up expenses and can create anxiety. 

    Another problem is overdiagnosis which may sound like an unfamiliar term when talking about healthcare; however, many of you may have already been presented to the idea. Overdiagnosis is diagnosing a disease that may never actually cause symptoms or affect your daily life in your lifetime.

    The problem of overdiagnosis is common especially in cancer screening where cancers can develop at different rates and never actually affect you. You begin receiving treatments for cancer which can add expenses, psychological stress, and side effects from procedures that would have never occurred if the screening had not occurred.

    But if that’s the case why does screening still happen?

    Because there is no process to tell how the disease will progress. The disease may develop faster or slower, so in some cases, screening tests can be useful.

    So how do you determine whether you should get screened?

    What you can do to protect yourself from unnecessary procedures is to talk to your doctor and get extensive feedback about the pros and cons of the screen test you are about to receive. Using the information together with your doctor decide whether screening is right for you.

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