[ RadSafe ] Scanning craze may do more harm than good

Steven Dapra sjd at swcp.com
Tue Dec 11 19:30:09 CST 2007

Dec. 11

         I wonder how much of this scanning craze is being pushed along by 
people (especially those who can afford the scans) who have the confused 
idea that they can put off their death by discovering health problems early 
enough --- or who may even think they can buy immortality.  As far as 
colonoscopies are concerned, why not get a real one that uses a camera 
that's sent in on a probe?  The worst part is that hideous tasting laxative 
you must drink for about two days.  The best part is some really good 
(prescription) drugs that make you forget virtually everything that happens 
during the colonoscopy.

Steven Dapra

At 08:34 AM 12/11/07 +0000, Dawson, Fred Mr wrote:
>Scanning craze may do more harm than good to the wealthy but worried
>Times reports
>Screening procedures being offered to thousands of Britons by private 
>health insurers may be doing more harm than good, experts say.  The 
>Department of Health has launched an inquiry to assess whether health MoTs 
>involving whole-body scans offer benefits that outweigh radiation exposure 
>risk. The Committee on the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment 
>(Comare   http://www.comare.org.uk   ) is to publish a report next week 
>calling for greater regulation of companies that promote screening tests. 
>More people are undergoing the check-ups, which private clinics say can 
>identify problems early.  Yet some computed tomography (CT) scans can 
>deliver a radiation dose equivalent to 500 chest X-rays, and ministers are 
>said to be concerned about giving such high radiation doses to people who 
>have no symptoms.  The report, commissioned by the Government, will 
>examine the risks and benefits of CT scans, which are widely advertised to 
>help to diagnose lung and colon cancers, or to look for abnormalities in a 
>whole-body scan. Several private clinics are offering the scans for up to 
>£3,000 each.  Nicholas Wald, president of the Medical Screening Society, 
>said that insurance companies were overusing the tests, which could also 
>cause anxiety over uncertain results. A code of practice is needed to 
>ensure the tests are only done when absolutely necessary, Professor Wald 
>said. CT scans represent about 6 per cent of the X-rays in Britain, but 
>are responsible for 40 per cent of radiation exposure. The estimate is 
>that a dose increases the risk of cancer by about 1 in 2,000.  But the 
>procedures, also used to assess the risk of heart attacks, do not help in 
>ruling out disease, Professor Wald said. There have not been enough trials 
>to show that either CT scanning of the heart, or colonoscopy, are of 
>benefit. Writing in the Journal of Medical Screening, he adds: "There is, 
>emerging in Britain, a culture in which judgments on medical screening 
>practice are being made in the absence of evidence. The culture needs to 
>change." Outside he established breast and bowel cancer screening 
>programmes, it is hard to say how many scans are being carried out in 
>private clinics, Professor Wald said, but those offered by companies such 
>as Saga Insurance have not been shown as worthwhile.  Someone having a 
>one-off full-body CT screening has an estimated cancer death risk of about 
>1 in 1,200. An annual scan for 30 years increases this risk to almost 1 in 
>50, according to research in the journal Radiology.  The net benefit of 
>finding cases of disease through screening could be reduced by about half 
>after potential deaths from radiation or surgery are accounted for, a 
>separate study suggests. Doctors also complain that they now have to spend 
>more time reassuring the "wealthy worried well" about inconclusive 
>results, he said. In a report last year, the British Medical Association 
>said that scans could pick up abnormalities that were only found to be 
>benign after patients had had further tests or surgery. Trials in the US 
>and Europe will discover whether C
>Health check
>1 in 1,200 chance of cancer from one-off radiation dose of full-body CT scan
>3% of patients have life-threatening problem uncovered (estimate)
>33% of patients are told to have further investigation or checks
>100,000 men and women have a private healthcheck with BUPA each year
>Source: Saga; BUPA, Times Database
>Fred Dawson
>Fwp_dawson at hotmail.com

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