How Useful is Medical Screening?

Science tells us that medical screening sometimes saves lives — but can also lead to overdiagnosis, overtreatment and medical harm. Screening can produce false positives, finding disease that isn’t there; false negatives, missing signs of very real disease; or ambiguous information that confounds patient and doctor alike. Pap smears, mammograms, and PSA tests are among the screenings routinely administered in the US and in Europe in ways that contradict national recommendations. Full-body scans have become popular, but no medical entity recommends them for a healthy population. Genetic screening is an ethically complex minefield. What’s the risk of too much screening? Of too little?

Festival: Spotlight Health 2015

Watch and Listen: Medicine

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise, and infections that could once be readily treated are becoming lethal.... See more
In violence-wracked Sudan, the world’s first 3D-printing prosthetic lab is manufacturing artificial limbs quickly and... See more
Science tells us that medical screening sometimes saves lives — but can also lead to overdiagnosis, overtreatment and... See more
Personalized medicine is upending hierarchies with consumer products like Scanadu, designed to track physiological... See more
Colorado's new "right-to-try" law, signed in May, allows terminally ill patients access to investigational drugs... See more
Understanding the “blueprint of life” is the key to applying technology to biology. Computing power and DNA sequencing... See more

Pages