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'Doc, is that test necessary? Consumer Reports said I don't need it.'

Patients no longer need to seek advice from their doctors regarding health maintenance and prevention; all they have to do is pick up a copy of Consumer Reports.  The magazine, which is an excellent source when shopping for a car or computer (i.e. “consumer” products), has apparently entered the business of medicine and provides a forum for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, best known for its recent recommendations on mammograms.  Consumer Reports released their report on which exams to skip (those for which the task force has given a D rating, meaning that they failed to meet the group’s standards) including:

— Urine cultures for bacteria in men and in women who aren’t pregnant. Exceptions: People who have symptoms of a urinary-tract infection.
— Blood tests, manual exams or ultrasound to screen for ovarian cancer in women. Exceptions: Your mother or a sister had the malignancy or you have symptoms of the disease, such as frequent lower abdominal pain and an unexplained sensation of bloating.
— The genetic test for the breast cancer susceptibility gene (BRCA). Exceptions: You have a history of breast or ovarian cancer or a relative who has tested positive for the mutation. Even then, talk with a genetic counselor before undergoing the test.
— Pap smears for women who have had a total hysterectomy for a noncancerous condition such as fibroids, or for those older than 65 who have had three or more normal smears in the past 10 years and who have not had cervical cancer.
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— The PSA blood test for prostate cancer in men who are older than 75 or have a life expectancy of less than a 10 years. Other men should weigh the unproven benefit of that test against its possible risks, notably false alarms that can lead to unnecessary testing and treatment.

— Urine cultures for bacteria in men and in women who aren’t pregnant. Exceptions: People who have symptoms of a urinary-tract infection.

— Blood tests, manual exams or ultrasound to screen for ovarian cancer in women. Exceptions: Your mother or a sister had the malignancy or you have symptoms of the disease, such as frequent lower abdominal pain and an unexplained sensation of bloating.

— The genetic test for the breast cancer susceptibility gene (BRCA). Exceptions: You have a history of breast or ovarian cancer or a relative who has tested positive for the mutation. Even then, talk with a genetic counselor before undergoing the test.

— Pap smears for women who have had a total hysterectomy for a noncancerous condition such as fibroids, or for those older than 65 who have had three or more normal smears in the past 10 years and who have not had cervical cancer.

— The PSA blood test for prostate cancer in men who are older than 75 or have a life expectancy of less than a 10 years. Other men should weigh the unproven benefit of that test against its possible risks, notably false alarms that can lead to unnecessary testing and treatment.

To be fair, they also listed the screening tests that are best for patients, including:  Blood pressure, Blood-sugar (fasting-glucose) test and lipid (cholesterol) profile, Colonoscopy, and (ironically) Mammograms.  Click here to read the full article in The Washington Post.

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