Are cancer centers too test-heavy? Some studies say yes

Three studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that cancer centers often deviate from testing guidelines, which can lead to unnecessary screenings and complications in older adults, The New York Times reported July 17.

One study, published March 7, analyzed 600 cancer center websites providing recommendations for prostate cancer screening. Researchers found more than one-quarter recommended all men be tested and more than three-quarters did not specify an age to cease routine testing. 

The study also found 62 percent of cancer center websites did not include the potential harms of screening. About half of 162 cancer centers in a June 2020 study also failed to include information on potential harms.

An analysis of 606 breast cancer centers, published in May 2021, found more than 80 percent of the centers were "at odds" with guidelines in terms of starting age and testing intervals. 

"We think it’s important to present a balanced account," Daniel Jonas, MD, an internist at Ohio State University College of Medicine and senior author of the study, told the Times. "It’s fair to say they could do a better job."

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