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Overdiagnosis

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Most people overestimate the benefits and underestimate the harms of medical intervention. Barbara M./Flickr

Great expectations: our naive optimism about medical care

“It might do me some good and it won’t hurt to give it a go.” How often have you heard a phrase like this? Most people have naïve optimism about medical care. That’s the finding of a systematic review…
Whether the harms of statins outweigh their benefits depends on how you balance them up. AJ Cann/Flickr

Statins saga shows some of the perils of modern medicine

A panel convened by medical journal BMJ to investigate whether it was right to correct rather than retract two pieces featuring a mistake about side effects from statins has endorsed the journal’s decision…
Over the centuries, the name cancer has become synonymous with dreaded disease. Jason Lee

What’s in a name? Why we need to reconsider the word cancer

Earlier this year, leading American cancer scientists called for a set of changes to deal with the problem of over-diagnosis and over-treatment caused by cancer screening. Efforts to raise awareness and…
Mamming involves resting breasts on a flat surface and taking a photo. Ondra Anderle

#mamming meme opens young women up to screening harms

Social media can help raise awareness of health issues, engaging people in discussion and encouraging them to take action. But thoughtless adherence to such trends has the potential to cause harm. New…
Labelling a risk factor as a medical condition stimulates the therapeutic reflex to treat, which may have minimal or no benefit yet risk all the adverse effects. John Chamberlain

When does ‘abnormal’ actually impact your health?

Anyone, it seems, can create an epidemic. Witness a recent article in the Fairfax papers that provides “startling” news about the large number of Australians with high cholesterol who don’t even know they…
We wanted to know about the people who decide where to draw the line between “normal” and “abnormal”, between healthy and diseased. Shutterstock

How diseases get defined, and what that means for you

Have you ever wondered how diseases get defined? How “high” does your blood pressure have to be before it’s called “high blood pressure”? How “low” does bone density have to be before it’s “osteoporosis…
A newly-defined condition called ‘chronic kidney disease’ could turn many people unnecessarily into patients. Shutterstock

Making people patients: chronic kidney disease over-diagnosis

Kidneys are probably not a subject most of us think about too much – but right now they’re at the centre of a global medical controversy. In a paper published in the British Medical Journal today, we explain…
We need a more rational debate about how and where we spend our finite health budget. Image from shutterstock.com

Explainer: what is health rationing?

HEALTH RATIONING – a series which examines Australia’s rising health costs and the tough decisions governments must make to rein them it. Any mention of the “R” word in health care immediately brings to…
Overdiagnosis wastes money and diverts resources that could be used treating real disease, experts say. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tranchis

Medical researchers raise alarm on overdiagnosis

One of the world’s top medical journals has launched a campaign against overdiagnosis, where people are diagnosed with medical…
Obesity, over-diagnosis, the NDIS, vaccinations and open access for genetic information were just some of the issues covered in 2012. Kylie May; shutterstock.com; Morberg; Pranjal Mahn

2012, the year that was: Health + Medicine

It promised to be a full year of reforms: pokies legislation, front-of-pack food labels and a dental system that doesn’t cost those in need an arm and a leg. But while we did see cigarette companies forced…
Even without routine mammographs, women with a family history of the disease should be screened. Zanthia

Is routine breast cancer screening doing more harm than good?

Public discussion about the risks of over-diagnosis of breast cancer have left some women wondering whether they should take part in the government’s breast screening program. Let’s take a look at what…
Over-diagnosis distracts us with conditions and interventions that provide marginal benefit, no benefit, or even net harm. Jonathan Cohen

Ending over-diagnosis: how to help without harming

OVER-DIAGNOSIS EPIDEMIC - In the final instalment of our series, Paul Glasziou talks about the way forward. Over-diagnosis is a significant problem that’s already common in some areas of medicine, such…
Not asking critical diagnostic questions is one of the causes ofthe high prevalence rates for ADHD. Jeff Meyer

Moving the diagnostic goalposts: medicalising ADHD

OVER-DIAGNOSIS EPIDEMIC – Today, Rae Thomas looks at the growing prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Does your five-year-old have difficulty sustaining attention? What about organising…
Of all the teenagers with flu-like symptoms, GPs need to find the one with a lymphoma in his chest. Joey Yee

Over-diagnosis: the view from inside primary care

OVER-DIAGNOSIS EPIDEMIC - We kick off the second week of this series with Jenny Doust looking at some drivers of over-diagnosis in general practice. It’s easy to dismiss general practice as being about…
Women need to be made aware of over-diagnosis and given enough information to make up their own minds about screening. Johan/Flickr

Over-diagnosis and breast cancer screening: a case study

OVER-DIAGNOSIS EPIDEMIC – Today Robin Bell and Robert Burton examine breast cancer to evaluate the role of population-wide screening in over-diagnosis. Since the national screening mammography program…

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