Cover image for Should I be tested for cancer? : maybe not and here's why
Title:
Should I be tested for cancer? : maybe not and here's why
Author:
Welch, H. Gilbert.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
x, 224 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Pt. I. Problems you should know about. -- It is unlikely that you will benefit -- You may have a "cancer scare" and face an endless cycle of testing -- You may receive unnecessary treatment -- You may find a cancer you would rather not know about -- Your pathologist may say it's cancer, while others say it's not -- Your doctor may get distracted from other issues that are more important to you -- Pt. II. Becoming a better-educated consumer -- Understand the culture of medicine (and why we are pushed to test) -- Understand the statistics of cancer (and why five-year survival is the world's most misleading number -- Understand the limits to research; even genetic research (and why it is hard to be sure there really are benefits to screening -- Develop a strategy that works for you.
Reading Level:
1160 Lexile.
ISBN:
9780520239760
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Getting tested to detect cancer early is one of the best ways to stay healthy--or is it? In this lively, carefully researched book, a nationally recognized expert on early cancer detection challenges one of medicine's most widely accepted beliefs: that the best defense against cancer is to always try to catch it early. Read this book and you will think twice about common cancer screening tests such as total body scans, mammograms, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests.

Combining patient stories and solid data on common cancers, Dr. H. Gilbert Welch makes the case that testing healthy people for cancer is really a double-edged sword: while these tests may help, they often have surprisingly little effect and are sometimes even harmful. Bringing together a body of little-known medical research in an engaging and accessible style, he discusses in detail the pitfalls of screening tests, showing how they can miss some cancers, how they can lead to invasive, unnecessary treatments, and how they can distract doctors from other important issues. Welch's conclusions are powerful, counterintuitive, and disturbing: the early detection of cancer does not always save lives, it can be hard to know who really has early cancer, and there are some cancers better left undiscovered.

Should I Be Tested for Cancer? is the only book to clearly and simply lay out the pros and cons of cancer testing for the general public. It is indispensable reading for the millions of Americans who repeatedly face screening tests and who want to make better-informed decisions about their own health care.


Author Notes

H. Gilbert Welch is Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Community and Family Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School and Co-Director of the VA Outcomes Group in the Department of Veterans Affairs, White River Junction Vermont.


Reviews 1

Booklist Review

The cost of medical malpractice soars as patient lawsuits proliferate, and healthcare providers react with rounds of defensive testing that boost insurance costs. Add to those trends early detection as the watch(buzz)word associated with the most dreaded of diseases, cancer, and you have Americans possessing health coverage routinely undergoing test after test. What of the downside of testing healthy people? Welch, a specialist in cancer detection, challenges common knowledge about everyday screenings, such as mammograms and PSA (prostate specific antigen) tests, citing patient anecdotes and research data on the most commonly diagnosed cancers in this readable, thought-provoking book. He argues that of the two basic cancer-prevention strategies--health promotion (diet, exercise, etc.) and early detection--the latter is the easier sell, and he notes that most tested people never develop cancer; screenings tend to miss the fastest-growing, most deadly cancers; and cancer-free patients with abnormal screenings often endure seemingly endless, sometimes risky testing that leads to unnecessary treatment. Accessibly written, Welch's perspective provides needed balance to current emphasis on testing. --Whitney Scott Copyright 2004 Booklist


Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: The conventional wisdom about cancer testing and what this book is aboutp. 1
Part I Problems You Should Know about
1. It is unlikely that you will benefitp. 17
2. You may have a "cancer scare" and face an endless cycle of testingp. 33
3. You may receive unnecessary treatmentp. 51
4. You may find a cancer you would rather not know aboutp. 66
5. Your pathologist may say it's cancer, while others say it's notp. 90
6. Your doctor may get distracted from other issues that are more important to youp. 106
Part II Becoming a Better-Educated Consumer
7. Understand the culture of medicine (and why we are pushed to test)p. 115
8. Understand the statistics of cancer (and why five-year survival is the world's most misleading number)p. 129
9. Understand the limits to research--even genetic research (and why it is hard to be sure there really are benefits to screening)p. 152
10. Develop a strategy that works for youp. 177
Appendix Summary of cancers discussed in this bookp. 191
Glossaryp. 193
Notesp. 199
Indexp. 219