By Steven Reinberg
THURSDAY, January 21, 2016 (HealthDay News) – Many elderly Americans are unnecessarily examined for breast and prostate cancer, which can lead to unnecessary treatments, according to a new study.
The practice may also cost US $ 1.2 billion a year health care system, the researchers added.
Nearly 16% of 65 and older are examined for breast or prostate cancer, although they may have less than 10 years of age, according to the study. A 10-year life expectancy is a benchmark for deciding whether or not to be projected. And the guidelines are against the screening of these cancers in people with a life expectancy of less than 10 years, the researchers said.
"Doctors, as well as patients, should count on life expectancy when they decide on the need for prostate cancer or for controlling breast cancer," said lead researcher Dr Firas Abdollah, Henry Ford Health System in Detroit .
"To achieve this goal, we have to overcome many obstacles," he said, which includes the lack of easy-to-use and cost-effective life expectancy calculations to guide doctors to write recommendations for control.
Also, busy doctors may find it difficult to explain the concept of life expectancy and why screening is not recommended for some people, he added.
Robert Smith, vice president of cancer detection at the American Cancer Society, said: "This may be a difficult discussion for doctors with patients. If a patient shows some excitement to take these tests, it is to have this discussion, especially if you are not so good at doing it. "
In addition, it is difficult to estimate if someone has 10 years of life, Smith said.
The report was published online on January 21st in the magazine JAMA Oncology.
Smith said the United States Prevention Services Task Force recommends mammograms for women aged up to 74 years. The Working Group does not recommend any prognosis for prostate cancer, he said.
The use of 10-year longevity as a benchmark for testing is the American Cancer Society's guideline, Smith said.
"We recommend that you do not offer prostate cancer prostate screening if men are not left 10 years of age," he said. "The breast cancer guideline is the same."
"The evidence suggests that early detection and treatment of early-stage tumors can reduce cancer mortality among the individuals examined," he said. he said.
Despite this benefit, control can also cause harm, he said. Detection can detect low-risk tumors that could never be threatened for their lives but suffer from unnecessary treatment damage, such as side effects of treatment and reduced quality of life, he added.
For the report, Abdollah and colleagues collected data for about 150,000 people aged 65 and over who responded to the survey of the Risk Factors Surveillance System in 2012.
Among these people, 51 percent had a prostate-specific test (PSA) or mammography last year. Of those examined, almost 31% had a life span of less than 10 years. The percentage of unplanned detection was 15.7%, Abdola said.
This figure ranged across the country, from 11.6% in Colorado to just over 20% in Georgia, according to the researchers. States with a high rate of unplanned prostate cancer screening also had a high rate of non-recommended breast cancer screening.
Smith said the other side of the coin is that many doctors fail to recommend screening for patients who are clearly 10 years or more.
About one-third of women who die from breast cancer each year are over 70, Smith said. "This means that there is a significant proportion of these deaths that could be avoided if women were examined," he said.
Smith added that many doctors are unaware of the tools available to predict longevity and many who know they do not use them. "Doctors need to be better prepared to appreciate longevity and discuss with patients about cancer screening," he said.
Smith underlined that as patients age, they tend to lose interest in the examination.
"There is a natural deterioration as you get older – patients lose interest in prevention and doctors become involved in managing life-limiting conditions," he explained.
Visit the American Cancer Society for more information on cancer screening.