Thursday, September 17, 2009

False positive cancer tests

I have been telling people to take charge of their health. Ask questions.
My young friend, Andrew, has been writing of his journey through life after a cancer diagnosis. Originally diagnosed as age 21, he is now age 24 and blogging about his journey. He has outlived his prognosis by oncologists.

I love this post , Andrew. You are a thoughtful man.

I have left it a bit to get my mind around a response, because you are intriguing! Your family must be awfully proud of you and grateful that you didn't listen to the doctors...for there are many studies in education that say that what a teacher believes about their students comes true.

Both my parents having had cancer I have read and written ( a whole book!) a lot about health.

On the cellular level, a cancer cell is a cell gone wrong. And we do not know why the body goes wrong any more than why we suffer mental health issues. We have clues about the triggers (for me it was dealing with my bereavement issues that led to my depression). We can see that environmental poisons lead to some cancers, as well as other biopsychosocial impacts on behaviour.

The medical profession does not like this point of view. They are scientists. Their work is based on research, the average, and not the individual. Your diagnosis and prognosis is based on statistics. This is why it is crucial to ask questions. Questions to ask your physician

A cancer diagnosis is a frightening one. I remember the ripples throughout our family when mom was diagnosed in 2002, and her first surgery.

As we age we naturally generate lumps and bumps. I noticed it when I turned 30! Calcium deposits, lumps and bumps. Many stories in the news speak of false positive cancer tests, (A Google search that found 2 million+ hits), and a technician's reading a is prone to interpretation.

When you consider that our longevity has increased over the years it seems normal to me. Our bodies are having to last longer and longer with new treatments for diseases, better nutrition, awareness of exercise and chronic disease prevention, we are living better, longer lives. From about 47 years in 1900 (depending upon your gender, and geographic location) to about 78 years in 2000. See: Screening vs. diagnosis of cancer
Get a second test. Question. Be aware.
  1. American Association For Cancer Research. "False Positive Screening For Cancer Found To Be Frequent And Costly." ScienceDaily 30 December 2004. 17 September 2009.
  2. Value of clinical breast screening uncertain 1 Sep 2009 ... Women with a false-positive exam may experience anxiety, radiation exposure, social, emotional and economic impacts.
  3. Understanding the pros and cons of prostate cancer testing 18 Mar 2009 ... The PSA and DRE tests have a high rate of false-positive results. A false positive means that the test result suggests cancer, even though no cancer is actually present (a false alarm).

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