New cancer tests could do more harm than good, says specialist - Guardian
"A new generation of tests for cancer could do more harm than good by increasingly diagnosing tumours which may not pose an immediate health risk, according to a leading cancer specialist.
People will increasingly have to chose between radical surgery or living with the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis, said Bruce Ponder, head of Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, at Cambridge University.
The new generation of screening programmes, scanning techniques and genetic tests, which will help diagnose people with the beginnings of life-threatening cancer, will pick up on more very small, latent and benign cancers. People could face a lifetime of anxiety and a decision about whether to undergo radical surgery loading pressure on the already stretched NHS, he says. "One of the things that may happen is that in our quest to develop better and better tests for early diagnosis of cancer we will end up detecting quite a lot of cancers that were never going to do anything in the lifetime of the individual ... we also need to find better ways to find out which cancers mean business and which cancers don't," he said."
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