Blood tests that detect cancer create risks for those who use them

With 44 million Medicare beneficiaries and an annual test costing around $1,000 a year, plus expensive scans and biopsies for those who t...


With 44 million Medicare beneficiaries and an annual test costing around $1,000 a year, plus expensive scans and biopsies for those who test positive, the price could be substantial.

He and other critics warn the risks of triggering the tests are substantial. As paradoxical as it may seem, finding cancers earlier could mean as many deaths, at the same time, as without early diagnosis. Indeed, at least with current treatments, cancers meant to kill are not necessarily cured if caught early.

And there are other risks. For example, some will test positive, but doctors will be unable to locate the cancer. Others will be aggressively treated with surgery or chemotherapy for cancers that, if left alone, would not have grown and spread and may even be gone.

Dr. Beer acknowledges that a blood test for cancer “is not without risk or cost, and will not detect all cancers”.

But, he said, “I think there’s the promise of real impact.”

Other experts are worried.

Dr. Barnett Kramer, a member of the Lisa Schwartz Foundation for Truth in Medicine and former director of the Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Cancer Institute, worries that testing will go mainstream without ever showing it’s beneficial . Once that happens, he said, “it’s hard to ring the bell.”

“Hopefully we’re not halfway to a nightmare,” Dr. Kramer said.

When Susan Iorio Bell, 73, a nurse who lives in Forty Fort, Pennsylvania, saw an ad on Facebook recruiting women her age for a cancer blood test study, she immediately signed up. This aligned with his advocacy of preventive medicine and his belief in clinical trials.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Blood tests that detect cancer create risks for those who use them
Blood tests that detect cancer create risks for those who use them
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