The March 2013 issue of Consumer Reports, issued today, Jan. 31, identifies eight cancer-screening tests it recommends consumers in low-risk groups avoid. The organization rated 11 common cancer-screening tests based on information from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ratings are based on the screening’s usefulness for a targeted age group.
Screenings for ovarian, testicular and pancreatic cancer received the organizations lowest rating. Ovarian cancer screenings are not effective in identifying the disease, pancreatic cancer screenings do not reveal cancer when in a curable stage, and most testicular cancers found without screening are curable.
Bladder, lung, prostrate, skin and oral cancer screenings are also a waste of time, may provide confusing results, and lead to unnecessary procedures such as biopsies, according to Consumer Reports.
"We know from our surveys that consumers approach screenings with an 'I have nothing to lose' attitude, which couldn't be further from the truth. Unfortunately some health organizations have promulgated this belief, inflating the benefits of cancer screenings while minimizing the harm they can do," — John Santa, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center
Three screenings received high ratings for effectiveness: Cervical, breast and colon. Based on their research, Consumer Reports recommends all women ages 21-65 have regular Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer. Woman ages 50-74 should be screened for breast cancer, and anyone ages 50-75 should be screened for colon cancer.
The report urges consumers to consult with their doctors to determine if they fall into a high-risk group that may require more rigorous schedule of cancer screenings.