July 11, 2019 – Harms of Screening


Anchor lead: When is it appropriate to stop routine cancer screening? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Cancer screening may entail some risk, and for some people, it may be appropriate to discontinue the practice. According to the American Cancer Society, those with less than 10 years of expected life remaining are one such group. Nancy Schoenborn, a geriatrics expert at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, examined the perspectives of both patients and physicians on the issue.

Schoenborn: At some point for a certain patient the harms of cancer screening and the harms of detecting and the follow up testing related to a positive result, all that and just the burden of getting to the screening test and undergoing it, the harms and the risks and the burdens at some point may outweigh the benefit and I think that it should be at least discussed whether for that patient it still makes sense to continue.  :30

Schoenborn says thoughtful discussion helps both sides reach a decision. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.