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8 Screening Tests To Avoid

December 20th, 2016

8 Screening Tests To Avoid

8 Screening Tests To Avoid

Doctors and healthcare professionals always encourage individuals to get screened for different health issues in order to minimize the risk of long term complications. But are all screening tests recommended or useful? The answer is NO.

Based on a latest study, several screening tests that are commonly advised by healthcare professionals are unnecessary and cost-ineffective. This includes screening tests for different cancers. Here are some of the reasons why certain screening tests should be avoided:

  • The screening methods are not efficient or sensitive (and thus are not an ideal marker for risk estimation)
  • The type of cancer is not much common

Here are eight cancer screening tests which you should avoid:

Bladder Cancer

The bladder cancer screening involves analysis of urine to look for presence of cancer cells or blood. Usually people don’t require screening because the method is not efficient/sensitive and cancer once detected (with or without screening), gets easily cured. Until or unless you are at high risk, bladder cancer screening is not recommended.

Risk factors:

  • Exposure to chemicals (working in factories)
  • Family history of bladder cancer
  • Smoking

Lung Cancer

A low dose CT scan is performed for lung cancer screening. This type of cancer is very rare in nonsmokers and test results are not reliable therefore, most modern healthcare providers do no usually recommend it.Tumor size and Prostate Cancer Death Rate image

Here are some risk factors for this cancer:

  • Chronic history of smoking
  • Excessive and prolonged exposure to lead, arsenic and asbestos

Mouth/Oral Cancer

Dentist or other health care professionals do visual analysis of mouth. Since this type of cancer is also very rare therefore people don’t require screening unless they are at high-risk.

Here are some risk factors for this cancer

  • Intake of tobacco
  • Smoking
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Weak immune system due to certain medications or diseases
  • HPV infection

Skin Cancer

Physician performs visual examination of skin and look for signs of melanoma (most lethal form of skin cancer). The efficacy of skin cancer screening is not conclusive however, if someone observes specific changes in skin such as color, shape, size, or increased number of moles, immediately refer to the doctor.

Risk factors:

  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Fair complexion
  • Excessive sun burns
  • Too many freckles
  • Numerous or enlarge pre-cancerous moles

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer screening includes Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test which detects concentration of prostate specific antigen in the blood. Men between 50 and 74 should ask their doctor about risk- benefit ratio before opting for screening. Prostate cancer is not common in younger men therefore, men aged below 50 do not require to be screened. While men aged 75 or more does not get benefitted because the progression is gradual and treatment doesn’t improve the chances of survival.

Here are some risk factors for this cancer

  • African- American race
  • Family history of disease
  • Smoking

Testicular Cancer

Smoking Responsible for Many Deaths from Cancers imageTesticular cancer is screened via physical examination of testicles. Most cancers that are detected without screening are treatable therefore, screening for testicular cancer is not required, unless there is a high risk!

Risk factor:

  • HIV infection
  • Undescended testis
  • Family history of testicular cancer

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer screening can be done via CA-125 blood test during which serum levels of a specific protein (which is thought to be linked with ovarian cancer), are measured. Besides blood test, a transvaginal ultrasound is also done to confirm the findings.

Unless a woman is at high risk, ovarian cancer screening is not suggested. Even if this tests help in the detection of cancer, it won’t be at treatable stage.

Here are some risk factors for this cancer:

  • Family history of ovarian and/or breast cancer
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Using estrogen for more than 5 years after menopause

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer screening involves imaging or genetic tests of abdomen. Like some other cancers, there is no such test that will diagnose pancreatic cancer at early or curable stage. Unless or until you are at high risk, you do not need it.

Risk factors

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Family history of disease


  • Siegel, R. L., Miller, K. D., & Jemal, A. (2015). Cancer statistics, 2015. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 65(1), 5-29.
  • Detterbeck, F. C., Mazzone, P. J., Naidich, D. P., & Bach, P. B. (2013). Screening for lung cancer: diagnosis and management of lung cancer: American College of Chest Physicians evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. CHEST Journal, 143(5_suppl), e78S-e92S.

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