Unnecessary Cancer Tests Identified
Posted on Apr 19, 2012
In an effort to improve the effectiveness of their field, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has identified several common cancer treatment practices which have far exceeded their usefulness and, in some cases, are even contrary to patients’ well-being. They are advising that some of these traditional norms be eliminated, others merely curtailed. The practices include:
• Use of chemotherapy in patients whose cancer is too advanced for them to benefit from it. The study instead suggests focusing on the treatment of symptoms and palliative care.
• Use of colony-stimulating factor (CSF) drugs in patients undergoing chemotherapy. Though valuable in some cases, these treatments are being viewed as over-employed and costly to patients. Use of advanced and costly imaging to monitor progression of early-stage breast and prostate cancers. The use of these procedures to test for metastasization in typically non-metastatic cancers can be highly invasive and unpleasant for patients, not to mention costly.
• Use of advanced and costly imaging to monitor for breast cancer recurrences. Doctors recommend mammography and careful attention paid to patient history, as opposed to breast MRI procedures that are unnecessary and have a high false-positive rate.
By limiting the use of expensive, unnecessary tests, ASCO hopes to both lower the cost of cancer treatment and increase the speed and effectiveness with which oncologists can diagnose and treat patients.