The Cancer Tests You Should Think Twice About

When assessing the necessity of a particular cancer screening, one has to weigh the risks and benefits. For those who are healthy with no symptoms or risk factors for a particular cancer, more testing is not always better. Learn what tests to approach with caution and what tests you absolutely need to take.

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Cancer screening in otherwise healthy individuals can be difficult. More screening isn’t always better. Not only is it difficult to find some forms of tumors, the potential for false-positives is high for some testing procedures. This can lead to further unnecessary testing, unnecessary operations and costly drugs; furthermore, unnecessary emotional distress is also a factor. When assessing the necessity of a particular cancer screening, one has to weigh the risks and benefits.

As a result, Consumer Reports generated a list of eight cancer screening tests that asymptomatic people with no risk factors should avoid. They also included three cancer screening tests that you should get because the benefits of those tests far outweigh the risks.

These eight screening tests include:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Skin cancer

Remember these Consumer Reports recommendations are for those who are healthy with no symptoms or risk factors for that particular cancer. If you are experiencing concerning symptoms or have a family history of a particular cancer, talk with your physician about screening.

Bladder, Lung and Pancreatic Cancer Screenings

Both Consumer Reports and the Dr. Oz Show agree that these three screening tests are best avoided unless you have symptoms or risk factors for any of these three cancers.

Symptoms of bladder cancer include intermittent bloody urine, pelvic pain or flank pain. Some patients also experience periods of incontinence or urinary urgency, and on the flip side, some patients may need to strain in order to urinate or experience a decreased force of urine stream. Risk factors for bladder cancer include smoking and previous bladder infection with Schistosoma hematobium and previous use of cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapy agent.

Lung cancer symptoms include coughing up blood (or hemoptysis, which is present in 25 to 50% of lung cancer patients), especially in long-term, older smokers. However, the most common cause of hemoptysis is bronchitis. Many also may experience chest pain or shortness of breath. The two main risk factors to worry about with lung cancer is smoking and previous radiation therapy to the chest.