What is cancer overdiagnosis?

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

When a cancer diagnosis occurs, it is a very serious situation that often requires quick action to begin treatment. While doctors aim to try to diagnosis cancer as early as possible, sometimes an early diagnosis is more harmful than helpful. 

In most cases, finding cancer very early is a good thing because it allows for fast treatment that helps to limit the growth and spread of the cancer. Forbes explains, though, that there is concern about the overdiagnosis of cancer. 

Better diagnostics

Cancer screenings are becoming very exact where tests can now find tumors when they are quite small. Other diagnosis methods would not find these tumors until long after, possibly even years later. 

Healthcare professionals often use these aggressive screening programs on people of all ages, which is what causes the concerns about diagnosing cancer too much or when it is not beneficial. 


Overdiagnosis is when a cancer diagnosis does more harm than good. An example would be the diagnosis of cancer in an older individual. In this situation, it is quite likely that the cancer would have never led to adverse health effects before the individual dies. 

Since the doctor found the cancer, he or she will put the individual through treatments that will make his or her last years of life uncomfortable. In this situation, it would have been much better for the person to live his or her life without ever knowing he or she had cancer. 

This is why overdiagnosis is bad. Making people go through treatments for cancer that would have never impacted their lives subjects them to harsh treatments that lower their quality of life and bring them harm they really did not need to experience. 


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