22 Apr 2011
Always Get A Second Opinion –and here it is
By Tanna Kasperowicz
Over-Diagnosed – Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, written by Dr. H. Gilbert Welch and Doctors Lisa M. Schwartz and Steen Woloshin, will be your second opinion in helping you to avoid unnecessary tests, drugs, surgeries and the anxieties which accompany the epidemic of over-diagnosis.
Being told you have cancer is frightening. But after you read this book you’re going to feel a whole lot different about the Big C. You’re going to know the odds, be privy to recent studies on high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and osteoporosis. You’re also going to learn about Dr. Welch’s thoughts on the dangers of scans, and how they can give you gallstones, damage knee cartilage, cause abdominal aortic aneurysms and blood clots.
We identify men with prostate cancer much earlier these days. But their death rate remains constant; men don’t really die of prostate cancer; what does that say for early intervention? Dr. Welch says early intervention is meaningless. Testing for a disease you don’t yet have wastes everybody’s time, mostly yours. And this is what Obamacare is all about – preventive testing for diseases that haven’t yet occurred and may never happen.
A friend got a scary note from her physician last week. In 2010 they had found a few nodules on her lungs, as a result of having scanned her thyroid. Had they not scanned her thyroid, they would have never found the nodules. Her physician told her that they needed to CAT scan the nodules for stability for 2 years in order that they could fully characterized their behavior. My friend told them to go look at someone else’s nodules, as she had been on a merry-go-round of expensive tests that seem to be producing nothing but more tests and more nodules.
On Page 69 of Over-Diagnosed Dr. Welch relays an interesting story about Brian Mulrone, Canada’s prime minister from 1984-1993. He had a routine check-up which included a spiral CT scan of his lungs. The scan showed two small nodules, so he had surgery to remove them.
“Following his surgery he developed pancreatitis, a rare but serious postoperative complication. He had to be moved into the intensive care unit. After a month and a half in the hospital he was discharged to convalesce at home. Then he had to be readmitted a month later yo have an operation on a cyst that had developed around his pancreas – a complication of pancreatitis. He was in the hospital another month. He didn’t even have lung chancer – the biopsies were negative.
They were just checking.”
According to Dr. Welch, “Getting a checkup is not always the path to better health.”