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|Title: ||The ethics of over-diagnosis: risk and responsibility in medicine|
|Authors: ||Carter, SM|
|Issue Date: ||2012|
|Publisher: ||The Conversation|
|Citation: ||Carter SM, 2012, The ethics of over-diagnosis: risk and responsibility in medicine, The Conversation|
|Abstract: ||Recently a friend told me a story about her dad. Fit and well, he had a PSA test during a general medical check-up. The PSA test is controversial: many, including its inventor, say it should never be used to screen for cancer.
My friend’s dad’s PSA test started him on a path to prostate cancer diagnosis and surgery. The surgery made him incontinent. Humiliated by accidents, he couldn’t be far from a toilet so could no longer coach soccer or go on his daily long walk with friends. He became socially isolated and sedentary. He put on weight. And he developed diabetes.
Now his health is worse, but it’s not only his health that has been affected. Other aspects of his well-being – attachment to his friends and the ability to live the life he wants – have been undermined. His story is, sadly, not unusual, except for one thing.
The hospital where he was treated called him in to apologise for operating unnecessarily and harming him. Both he and his clinicians concede he was over-diagnosed (the disease would not have produced symptoms or shortened his life) and over-treated (he received treatment he didn’t need.)
Over-diagnosis and over-treatment happen for many reasons – commercial interests, technological developments, medico-legal threats and deliberate profiteering. But as consumers, we also contribute.|
|Rights and Permissions: ||CC BY-NC 3.0|
|Type of Work: ||Article|
|Type of Publication: ||Post-print|
|Appears in Collections:||Research Papers and Publications. Sydney Health Ethics|
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