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Breast cancer checks may be administered less often
Date: 2013-01-14 00:00:00

When it comes to treating cancer and other serious illnesses, early detection is key. However, there is debate over when it is prudent to administer cancer screening tests and who should receive them, since not everyone will be able to pursue a full spectrum of treatment. Some experts postulate that discovering cancer in certain patients can cause more harm than help, and recent research published in the British Medical Journal supports that end.

According to researchers at the University of California in San Francisco, giving a breast cancer screening test to some patients with less than 10 years of life expectancy remaining can produce more negative than positive outcomes. Scientists looked at a number of studies of previous breast cancer assessments that took place between 1986 and 2008, including more than 150,000 people over the age of 50 with up to 20-year follow up windows on each case. They discovered that, in those with more than five years of expected life left, the long-term benefits of treatment could produce better quality of life in the future. For those with less than that allotted time predicted remaining, the strain of treatment was more detrimental to ongoing life and enjoyment than had they not been diagnosed and administered treatment for the issue.

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